More than half the UK adult population is now using social media and that figure will rise in 2015. How we communicate with companies providing goods and services has been shaken up as a result.
Whereas once consumers would call a customer services line, they now tweet or post their complaints and questions on Facebook, often ensuring quicker results.
Communicating with those providing public services should be no different, particularly with the government’s drive to grow digital capabilities to improve services for all. In conversations with our customers, we increasingly hear about how social media improves the overall citizen experience. The ability to engage with people at the click of a button has transformed the relationships local councils have with their communities.
Take our partner Wychavon DC, a good example of an organisation that has fully realised the importance of social media. It uses Twitter and Facebook to deliver news and engage with local people. The Facebook page is updated almost daily with a variety of information, from roadwork and travel announcements to informing citizens about upcoming events going on in the local area, which otherwise might be missed by locals.
Elsewhere, Oldham MBC uses social media to listen and engage with communities, going one step beyond the traditional customer satisfaction survey. For example, Oldham streams its full council meetings live and allows residents to submit questions via a range of means, including Twitter. Through responding to the changing needs of the citizen, these councils are well prepared to tackle future changes by staying ahead of the game and responding to citizens needs in a manner suitable for this day and age.
We recently brought together a group of pioneering leaders to discuss the changing needs of the citizen and what the local authority of 2025 would look like. Transformational change was at the forefront of the discussion and it was clear that social media has a key role to play in shaping the way people work. Rather than just deploying one or two social media campaigns, there is a requirement to think digitally across all areas of the local government organisation, from the collection of revenues and benefits to bin collections.
Furthermore, Gartner recently found that the smart public sector organisations will be those that harness the power of social, mobile, cloud and information to drive innovation, improvements and savings. The nation is becoming increasingly digitised, and as the typical man and woman on the street begin to embrace social media in all aspects of their daily lives, so too must local government organisations who deliver the public sector services they require.
By Paul Bradbury, group business development director at Civica