Are you Future Ready?...making the connection


An Outsiders Point of View - conference reflections

As Local Government begins preparing for a period of intense modernisation and reform, here are some suggestions from three industry ‘outsiders’ about what the sector should be doing in order to be future ready.

The comments came from Professor Jennifer May, Director - Department of Rural Health, University of Newcastle and former President of National Rural Health Alliance; customer experience guru, Isabella Villani, Exceed Global, and Andrew Hoyne, Founding Principal of Hoyne. They were speaking at the 2020 LGPro Conference which took place in Melbourne last week.

Topping the list was the need for a more customer-centric approach to service delivery and better use of available data.

According to the speakers, councils now more than ever need to:

•    Respond to customer queries in a timely manner – in customer time-frames, not council’s.

•    Develop a centralised database on customers. This would document all conversations with customers and other key touch points, saving customers from having to repeat themselves or retell their stories each time they call council.

•    Create clever, easy-to-use digital communications channels that cut out the need for customers to revert to more traditional channels (phone or face-to-face) out of frustration with clunky, less-robust digital systems.

•    Ensure communications channels respond to community demographics. With our rapidly aging population and in populations where English is not a first language, councils need to ensure these groups have access to channels that work best for them.

•    Create a great company culture that fosters a happy, productive workplace where staff know they can make a genuine difference and have a deep understanding of what good customer experience looks like. If people are unhappy in their jobs, providing great customer service is difficult to deliver on.

•    Finally, councils should work closely with their customers when redesigning their communications channels and customer-service touch points, ensuring they closely mirror what their customers want.