7 best practices for Customer Operating Models

  • Matt Huxley
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7 best practices for Customer Operating Models

Over the past 5 years, 31ten has built a reputation for transforming the way local government delivers customer fulfilment. We are well known for combining ‘top down’ strategies around operating models and organisational design with ‘bottom up’ user-led research. We are particularly experienced in helping local authorities transition to an early intervention and preventive approach through their mainstream approach to customer contact, processing and service delivery. We have summarised our ‘best practice’ approach to transforming customer contact to seven key principles:

  1. Build your approach to customer fulfilment on ‘digital by default’

Whilst many customer journeys can be digitised, not all of them will – you need to decide where the delivery model will vary. We believe all processes should be designed for the digital-era based on good customer experience – even if you choose to use face-to-face instead of self-serve. This means that you can drive consistency through your approach to managing customer experience, data gathering, insight, communication and prevention.

  1. Invest heavily in assisted digital to drive up digital inclusion

We’re often being asked to address the challenge of online services not working for all. For us an increasingly important area of disadvantage is digital inclusion. Increasing digital inclusion is critical to all your residents social, mental and physical wellbeing as so much of modern life requires it. The best councils are using their assisted digital offer to drive up inclusion enabling the effectiveness of their model as well as broader benefits.

  1. Use empowered, high-quality human assistance to resolve issues and facilitate early intervention

The days of log and flog are over. Human agents are an extremely valuable resource for your customer services operation for two reasons; firstly, human agents are the ones who can take ownership and resolve issues which often involve a complex network of organisations (e.g. a missed bin may need the council, the supplier, and the resident all to co-ordinate). Secondly, the Covid response revealed gaps in the knowledge of communities for many authorities: human agents can be your ‘eyes and ears’ to protect more expensive statutory services and to leverage the voluntary sector by identifying risks in the population you are in contact with and referring them to appropriate local services.

  1. Use data to target interventions which leverage face-to-face contact focused on complexity

Making every touch point with customers count inevitably requires the council to take a data-led approach to targeted interventions. The leading councils are using data to identify customers who have more complex needs and intervening with them earlier. In some of the more cutting edge work we have been involved with, councils are using a face-to-face customer services offer as a targeted way to build relationships with more vulnerable residents and help them to navigate the wider public service system to help prevent their needs escalating.  As the cost of living crisis bites, we are seeing councils accelerating the move to this type of approach.

  1. Take an integrated approach to the locality-based service delivery model

The impact of Covid has undoubtedly shone a light on the importance of the ‘15 minute neighbourhoods’ and many authorities we work with a transforming their health and well-being approach to a locality model. We think it’s critical not to separate this from the mainstream approach to customer services as community and personal resilience is inevitably local. Working in partnership with residents and citizens to get the right result is fundamental to this model.

  1. Develop an optimised and pragmatic approach to customer-facing digital technology platforms, systems and architecture

Local Government has a wide range of technology systems and approaches to delivering customer contact and fulfilment service delivery.  Some have single CRM systems and MyAccount platforms that seek to deliver all services and interactions, and others have a more service-based approach with several systems and digital solutions combining to fulfil customer service transactions and information requests. We ensure that our strategic operating models are well grounded in a pragmatic, yet best-practice technology architecture that respects your starting point and can deliver significant service improvements in a timely and cost-effective way.

  1. Organise contact and processing hubs around outcomes

Finally, from an organisational perspective, best practice councils have moved away from siloed service delivery and towards a focus on customer outcomes. We have seen a number of examples where contact and processing ‘hubs’ become effective where they a clustered around a series of outcomes (e.g. financial resilience). Benefits include a more holistic view of the customer and a transition to a ‘tell us once’ type model of operating.

If your organisation needs support transforming your customer operating model, we’d love to hear from you: Matt.Huxley@31tenconsulting.co.uk