The UK government risks alienating the population if it takes a “digital only” approach rather than a “digital first” approach.
This is according to David Moody, head of worldwide product strategy at customer service solutions provider KANA Software.
While Moody accepts the benefits and potential that digital solutions can offer both the private and public sector, he believes that scenarios that exclude people are unacceptable.
He claims that the UK, particularly in central government, is ahead of other countries in this area, leading others, including the US, to follow suit.
However, Moody told 24N that there is the risk that Whitehall is rushing too much to get everything online.
He claims the “build it and they will come” philosophy is the wrong approach to take towards digital public services and that those behind the services must consider how to convince people to use them once they are online.
“It is not surprising that technology vendors use these trends to appeal to government organisations which are often perceived, wrong in my opinion, as technology laggards,” Moody claimed.
“Recent research carried out by KANA has shown there is much confusion between digital platforms and CRM, to the point where they are often seen as mutually exclusive.
“This has largely been a result of those vendors who are now promoting ‘digital only’ platforms. This appears to be appealing due to the apparent cost-reduction implications of shifting requests online.
“The question is, where do customers go when they get stuck,” he added.
According to Moody, support for people who want to use online services but do not know how is absolutely essential for successful digital strategies.
He claims infrastructure plays an important part in this – offering online chat and virtual assistant type programmes can offer the support required.
“The emphasis has to be on digital,” Moody told us, and many services simply belong online, but when so many are moved online, complications begin to arise.
For many services, face-to-face interaction remains essential, and this is why the product strategy head recommends digital first, rather than digital only.
“Successful digital strategies recognise the need to support customers through the provision of chat, email, voice and other suitable channels,” claimed Moody.
“Without offering a route to direct, more immediate contact than web based forms; the service being offered will fail to meet public demands and will actually end up costing money as a result of customers taking specific issues direct to those channels ill-equipped to deal with them,” he added.