In this second episode of the Government to Business, Gavin discusses what the first thing senior executives delivering government digital services to business must focus on in their strategy: customer centricity.

He breaks down the initial steps to take to deliver benefits to businesses, saving them time and money and how your government can achieve massive efficiencies.

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What must your government's digital strategy focus on first?

Transcript:

Gavin: G'day folks and welcome to Government to Business. In this second episode I thought I'd actually address the primary issue, the first thing you should always be thinking about when it comes to what you need to be doing when you're  beginning a transformational journey for your digital channel for business.

Originally I was thinking about a whole heap of different options for how I want to approach this very first thought leadership issue on the podcast. And I thought look at the end of the day everything fundamentally comes back down to one consideration and only one consideration only. And that is what is the most important thing to do when it strategy and the actual customer proposition. And that's the main word there: customer.

Customers have to be at he heart of everything that we do when it comes to the service delivery of your government's digital channel. If we're not doing that, quite simply you're not actually serving your customers the way you should. Your customers are just going through quite literally a tick-a-box exercise. You're going through a tick-a-box exercise and at the end of the day, that's not going to deliver any benefits at all to the businesses within your jurisdiction and it's not going to deliver any benefits to you as a government. Now whether that's a financial benefit, whether that's a political benefit, it doesn't really matter. If you actually don't address the fundamental issue of what is your customer want? What does your customer need? What are they trying to achieve? Then you literally are going nowhere; you're spinning wheels.

So what I wanted to start looking at from the very beginning is what are your options when it comes to your digital strategy and positioning that for business customers. Now if you're in an ideal situation, let's say maybe you're in a very senior executive role that has a view I guess over all of your government; now whether that's local, whether it's state, whether it's national, it doesn't really matter. You're basically looking at things from the whole government perspective. Now when you're doing that you're in a very, very different position then say for example, if you have responsibility only for an agency. Nothing wrong with being, being responsible just for an agency, but your remit, the actual - I suppose - the requirements on your shoulders if you're looking after the whole of government strategy is far greater. And it's actually far more important to get it right. But when you do get it right, geez the benefits they're amazing and they really, really are. Both not only to government but actually to customers themselves.

And what I'm talking about positioning things at a whole-of-government level for business customers it is quite literally that. How can you actually package up the whole customer experience, the customer journey to be able to best address their needs at any given point of time? Now that could be whether they're actually looking at starting a business whether it could be a case that they've actually got, you know, actually going through a particular issue or problem with an employee, trying to comply with a particular government regulation or whether they're looking at, they're really want to kind of kick-start things. They want to kind of grow, they want to be able to employ more staff.

Those are things that fundamentally, at the end of the day, you won't be able to address and you want to get right. And be able to do that and that is by getting out there, engaging with your customers. Better understanding what their issues, what their concerns are, what are they after when it comes to being able to deal with government? Now, anytime you start talking to businesses around when it comes to government how can they best help you? In a lot of cases they'll say, "Well just get out of my way!"

And that's fine, I kind of get that. But at the same time businesses fundamentally know that in a generally speaking a modern contemporary society there are, there are requirements there that government expects businesses to do which businesses are, you know, pretty okay to go with. They know that, look for a business to be legitimate you need to actually have in place the laws, the regulations, the licensing to be able to prove that, you know, you are conducting a legitimate business. You're not, you're not flying-by-night, you're not there to kind of do dodgy deals, you're there for the long haul. And to that end obviously government puts in place measures when it comes to tax and other forms of regulations to ensure that look, only real businesses can register. So that's one thing.

Secondly of course businesses understand that it's not like the wild, wild west. And depending on the nature of their industry and what they're doing in any particular point of time, it's essential that they need to comply with particular government regulations and those regulations are in place for good reason, and they understand that. Whether that's about protecting the rights of the employees, or it's about protecting the rights of their actual customers, you know citizens, people who are consumers who are actually receiving that service or broadly actually about protecting their own rights. The actual
requirements when it comes to regulatory requirements for the environment. Those are the type of things that a rational business owner understands is going to be out there. What's important to them is making sure that it's quick and easy for
them to understand what they need to do and then how to comply with that. Simple as that.

Fundamentally, at the end of the day when you're actually running an actual business site for government, you've got certain responsibilities. I understand that.  Often you'll find that they'll be pressing policy or political requirements, that's just part of the deal. We understand all that. But the number one consideration should always be around the customer. Because if you don't get that right you're not addressing the fundamental issue, you're just kind of putting a band-aid over the problem and that's not gonna solve it. If you're looking it from the point of view about, you know, an actual depending on your jurisdiction, you know a minister, a mayor, a governor, a secretary; whoever's responsible for the political delivery of what you're doing to business.  They're in it to make sure that obviously they're meeting the needs of a particular constituency.

The best way of doing so is making sure you do the above. You actually meet their needs. You deliver what they want, how they want it, in such a way that it's simple, it's easy, it's effective and it saves them time and saves them money.

And really that's what this is all about, it's about delivering those benefits to business, saving them time, saving them
money, making it easy to do business. If you're doing that, particularly within the digital channel they're not rocking up to counters, they're not phoning call centers, they're not using - they're able to actually find out exactly what they need and they're not using other forms of expensive aspects of service delivery.

They get everything they want in one simple transaction, one simple engagement with government. Now, if you're able to deliver that, the actual benefits to government I've seen time and time again are quite extraordinary. You are looking
and you are talking, depending on the size of your jurisdiction and what you're delivering, you're talking about millions of dollars worth of actual savings. Now that could be when it comes to the actual leasing costs of property, it can come to the actual staffing arrangements - and that has a lot obviously to do with the way that your your local regulations, your local
employment conditions work when it comes to government staff members. But there is significant financial benefits to being able to move towards a far more customer-centric form of service delivery.

If you're not doing that, you're just literally spinning your wheels, you're just taking taxpayers dollars and you're just wasting them. Now, taxpayers don't want that I can tell you that right now. Businesses sure don't want that and I'm pretty sure that if
you kind of talk to any of your actual political leaders they don't want that either. They want to be able to be seen to deliver. Understandably there's going to be, you know, as I said before, there's going to be some political pressures
from time and now again. And we're all used to that, we all know how that works, we all know how to respond to that.

But at the end of the day what they're really interested in is making an impact, making a difference. And that's not about
just doing simple press releases or media releases or whatever. It's actually about making a material benefit to businesses.
And the best way you can do so is clearly with the digital channel. It's responsive, it's there when people want it, it's there when they've got a problem. So when a business owner is going, "Look, I don't know how to deal with this." They do
exactly what you do, currently right now. You hop onto Google or you do whatever you need to be able to do, to be able to resolve your problem and your issue. Now the nature of government websites, we tend to be far more trustworthy in the eyes of Google. They're going to be putting us much higher up in the actual search engine rankings when it comes to those queries.

So it's imperative that you take that customer perspective, not only is it good for the customer but Google by
default, the way their algorithms work, the way that they actually do their search engine ranking placement it's fundamentally based around the customer. So if you can do that right, you can do it well, not only are you going to be able to better service your customers needs but you're going to be able to deliver those benefits internally within government.

Now I said earlier on, I was talking from a whole-of-government perspective, looking at things more broadly but these principles they apply just as much if you're looking at say, an actual niche site. You know there's plenty of examples of this in recent times whether you're talking about starting a business and the actual, the licensing requirements that are available there. I mean there's a great example within Switzerland which I'll be doing an interview with very, very shortly. There's
examples of grants and other program support that's available that's packaged all together from a business customer perspective. Wonderful examples are within Singapore, wonderful examples within the state of California. These type of niche delivery mechanisms are still far, far better than doing absolutely nothing at all. It's looking at that problem and packaging that up in an actual discreet form of delivery. Now, the great thing about that is once you've nailed that and you get that working well there are far greater opportunities to expand the broader customer proposition and the offering at that
point of time.

But you know if you're just dealing with this from an agency perspective, if you're just running a government department's website, an organization's website for the government, it doesn't really matter what it is.

Fundamentally if you're actually taking that customer view and you blow away bureaucratic structures, bureaucratic
silos and the way you actually write and structure your content you're going to be making a benefit. Both to the customer and to government itself. So, that's what I wanted to kind of share with you today.

I hope to be able to share other insights and other elements of thought leadership. Let me know what you're thinking, what's important to you, what you'd like to know more about, if you have someone you want to be able to, you know, discuss an interview, let me know as well.

My email address is Gavin@GovernmentToBusiness.com. You can also reach me on twitter at gov2business, that's with the number 2, or of course on LinkedIn and I look forward to talking to you, and hearing from you very, very soon. Thanks, see you guys. Bye, bye.