Using data to meet citizens’ needs: why responsive Government is the future of the public sector

To become more responsive, rebuild public trust, and deliver on their mission, governments need to connect data from their operational systems and from citizen and employee experiences.

Only by joining the dots between data that explains how people feel – their experiences, emotions, beliefs, sentiments: what we call experience, or ‘X-data’ – with data which shows what is happening – like budget data, service requests, tax receipts: what is described as operational, or ‘O-data’ – can governments truly deliver exceptional services to citizens.

Changing expectations

Expectations around experience have shifted significantly in recent years, as people have been exposed to innovative, intuitive and personalised services for everything from e-commerce to transport. Increasingly, they expect the same experiences with government.

However, research suggests government is ranked near the lowest of all sectors in the economy for customer service. Coupled with data and privacy concerns, this had led to a deterioration of trust in government.

The good news is that improving citizens’ experiences with government has been shown to increase trust in the public sector. More importantly, intelligent, data-led government leads to better services and outcomes. Shifting to a system of innovation that can turn insights into action is the future of the public sector and will help governments around the world deliver their objectives and mission.

Improving experience to build trust

To arrive at responsive government, services need to be delivered efficiently and effectively so that citizens’ expectations are met. Every interaction between a citizen and their government is important. But governments should prioritise where and how they start their journey to become a responsive, experience-driven organisation.

Experience drivers in the public sector

Measuring success

Experience strongly influences efficiency and effectiveness in government services and is a leading indicator that can be used to improve service delivery. This allows the public sector to improve relationships with citizens while also delivering the outcomes citizens and government care about.

In a responsive government, experience becomes a key performance indicator for every agency and department. Already, many public sector organisations will seek feedback and try to understand how people feel in response to their experiences.

Yet too often, this is done in an ad-hoc or irregular manner. By building the measurement of experience into every interaction, governments can build a continuous feedback loop to understand the impact of any changes and inform future decisions.

Using experience to measure  performance

Getting started with X and O

Becoming a responsive government is not easy. Starting small, by identifying one use case based on the most pressing public policy problems can build confidence and help show results quickly. Below, we outline six use-cases that can assist in identifying your initial projects.

1.  Cause: Understand operational (O) data by finding explanations in experience (X) data. Operational data shows that many citizens fail to pay their taxes on time after acquiring new properties. The tax agency finds from experience data that some citizens are unaware that they’ve passed the threshold for property tax.

2. Driver: Find something happening in X-data, and look for operational conditions that are causing the situation. Experience data uncovers that citizens are periodically dissatisfied with the process for renewing their driver’s license.  The agency finds from operational data that it tends to happen during school holidays, when staffing is low at certain branches.

3. Prediction: Build segmentation models based on a combination of X-data and O-data. An agency uses a combination of operational data (job categories, tenure, past attrition rates, etc.) and experience data (task assignments, caseloads, employee engagement scores, etc.) to predict future staff turnover.

4. Personalisation: Adjust how your treat people based on a combination of X and O data. A tax agency proactively offers payment holidays to debtors (operational data) who are impacted by a natural disaster (experience data).

5. Alerting: Send relevant alerts and information to people based on X and O-data. An agency sets up an alert with case file information (operational data) to be notified whenever a citizen reports feeling depressed (experience data), so they can offer counselling services.

6. Value measurement: Evaluate the value of improving experiences by examining the impact those changes have on business metrics. A social service agency calculates the impact of switching to digital channels by assessing the cost and time savings (operational data), against feedback about the online experience (experience data).

Governments can no longer afford to be static. They must continually update and improve their services and programs based on feedback from citizens and employees. The examples above show that for many organisations, only small changes are required to start building responsive processes and behaviours.

As technology continues to evolve, and as we continue to find ourselves operating under a ‘new normal’, governments will need to ensure that they are all the technology and tools required for responsive government, or risk losing the trust of citizens.

To read the full whitepaper about how to become a responsive government, visit the SAP Responsive Government homepage.