Successfully reported this slideshow.
We use your LinkedIn profile and activity data to personalize ads and to show you more relevant ads. You can change your ad preferences anytime.

Public Service Delivery


Published on

  • Be the first to comment

Public Service Delivery

  1. 1. Page 1 EFFICIENCY UNIT VISION AND MISSION Vision Statement To be the preferred consulting partner for all government bureaux and departments and to advance the delivery of world-class public services to the people of Hong Kong. Mission Statement To provide strategic and implementable solutions to all our clients as they seek to deliver people-based government services. We do this by combining our extensive understanding of policies, our specialised knowledge and our broad contacts and linkages throughout the Government and the private sector. In doing this, we join our clients in contributing to the advancement of the community while also providing a fulfilling career for all members of our team. This Brief was researched and authored by the Serco Institute, led by Gary L. Sturgess (www.serco. com/institute). The Serco Institute was established 13 years ago to study the role that competition and contracting can play in the provision of public services, and the conditions and practices that deliver the best outcomes. It acts as a practical source of ideas and information, drawn from a continuing dialogue with public officials, think tanks and academic researchers. It also draws on the extensive operational experience of Serco Group, embracing more than 600 contracts, in over 30 countries, with a history of more than 40 years in the public sector. Other Efficiency Unit Documents The Efficiency Unit has produced a number of detailed guides including on outsourcing and Public Private Partnerships (PPP). These may be found on the Efficiency Unit website at
  2. 2. Page 2 Foreword Hong Kong boasts one of the most services-oriented economies in the world. To attain and retain this position Hong Kong’s private sector must constantly innovate to attract and keep its customers, both local and international. One fundamental pre-requisite for success is the commitment to constantly monitor and improve the quality of service offered to consumers. Growing numbers of the Hong Kong community now compare the quality of services delivered by the Government to the private sector, and expect us to match its customer care, flexibility and personalisation. The constant improvement and upgrading that the private sector must undertake in order to remain competitive means that our goalposts are a forever receding target! This report demonstrates how different developed countries are tackling similar problems by employing a wide range of approaches and technologies to suit their particular circumstances. Whilst Hong Kong is also well-advanced in some areas, there are others where we need to do more to catch up. One key element required for us to succeed is a greater willingness to explore and implement more joined-up services. This does not require major organisational change, but it does need a willingness and a determination to adopt the customers’ perspective. Head, Efficiency Unit March 2008 Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  3. 3. Page 3 Contents Page Executive Summary 4 1. What Today's Citizens Expect 7 2. New Initiatives for Joining-Up Services 11 3. Making Public Services More Personal 16 4. New Ways of Serving Users through New Technologies 23 5. The User's Experience of Public Service Delivery 30 6. Endnotes 34 Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  4. 4. Page 4 Executive Summary overnments today face a demanding (departments or authorities choosing on G level of expectation when it comes to public service provision. This report behalf of their citizens). What Today's Citizens Want explores some of the ways that different Information – about available services and g overnments around the world have how to access them. Technology has enabled Today's citizens responded to this challenge. new information channels, but some users expect many of the same services from continue to need or prefer traditional the public sector as What Today’s Citizens Expect methods of information provision. the private sector. Citizens’ expectations of public services Voice – allowing citizens to communicate have risen. The collective culture of the with service providers, either individually nineteen-fifties when individuals accepted or collectively. To capture a wider range of without question the public ser vices user views, governments usually combine available has been replaced by a market user-led systems such as feedback channels driven culture of citizens with varied with focus groups and surveys that capture Joining-Up lifestyles and needs. Today’s citizens expect a broader section of society. Services many of the same services from the public Joined-up service sector as the private sector – choice, Responsiveness – g overnments need to benefits citizens convenience and the capacity for services acknowledge or respond to citizen feedback. in improved to adapt over time to meet changing Responsiveness is also about successful accessibility and requirements. customer-provider interface. faster transactions. It also delivers efficiency gains and Public service markets are different from Accessibility – citizens need to be able to offers performance consumer markets. Customers do not access services in different ways, both for benefits for service always choose to access public services convenience, and to ensure that services are providers. – medical services are usually used by available to all citizens. necessity, while education is compulsory. Public ser vices often have a complex Consumer research suggests that citizens customer base – in custodial markets, both rate the private sector more highly than prisoners and the public are stakeholders government when it comes to customer in the service. Moreover, while consumers service. However, they rank government will pay more for better quality goods and more highly for ensuring that services reach services, the funding for public services is the people who need them. Both factors limited by government budget constraints, are important to citizens, so the specific so service improvements often have to be challenge for governments is to successfully achieved without additional funding. ser ve individual needs while offering universal provision. Some key characteristics of citizen-centric public services include: New Initiatives for Joining-Up Services Choice – of service provider, service type or Public services are traditionally delivered method of accessing a service. Choices can through direct one-off transactions between be made by individuals, representatives (e.g. a department, agency or authority and the carers or professionals) or organisations individual. However, recent technological Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  5. 5. Page 5 Executive Summary developments have made it easier for service package. Personalised governments to join-up service provision Public Services across organisational, transactional and The involvement of users in directing and Personalisation of geographical boundaries. designing their services often occurs in public services can complex human services such as education, mean providing Joining-up can be horizontal (across health and social care. However, these are a more friendly departments or organisations) or vertical sectors where choice based policies can be service, or collecting (between local, regional and national levels). controversial due to issues of equity and and responding to It can involve the physical joining of assets inclusiveness. For this reason, governments feedback. At the other or the pooling of data or resources across often opt for systems of choice within end, personalisation multiple sites. Back office functions can defined boundaries, which allow services can extend to the active involvement be combined for increased efficiency and to be managed and targeted as appropriate. of service users in effectiveness, while maintaining multiple Examples are school voucher systems or decisions about service front-office channels. Or, multiple services choice based lettings in social housing. delivery. can be channelled through a single access Many of the best examples occur in social point for user convenience and better data care, where users are engaged more actively management. as co-designers of their services, usually through some form of personal budgeting. Benefits for citizens from joined-up services include improved accessibility, Personalisation can also be collective New Technologies faster transactions and more integrated – services tailored to suit user groups, to Serve Users data management. For service providers, decisions made by professionals New technologies are the creation of economies of scale delivers representing a group of ser vice users having a significant efficiency gains, whilst the sharing of data (health practices managing budgets on impact on the way in and resources offers performance benefits. behalf of their patients) or localised service which citizens access and experience public Joining-up can also be a way to streamline approaches to suit the needs of a specific services. specific services or to connect with hard to community. reach user groups. New Ways of Serving Users through Making Public Services More Personal New Technologies User's Experience Personalisation of public services can New technologies are having a significant mean various things. At one end of the impact on the way in which citizens access of Public Service scale, providing a more friendly service, or and experience public services. On the Delivery collecting and responding to feedback. At one hand, technology is facilitating the Citizens care not just the other end of the scale, personalisation development of existing services to improve about the outcomes can extend to the active involvement of access and outcomes for citizens. Benefits that are delivered service users in decisions about service include more inclusive, accessible services, by public service providers, but also the delivery, such as allowing individuals to more efficient use of data, increased way in which those decide how money allocated to them is convenience for users, more efficient services are delivered. spent. Or, it may involve giving users transaction processes, and, in some cases, opportunities to influence the actual the delivery of high-level social benefits design of a service, for example, through such as improvements in educational management of a personal budget or a outcomes. On the other hand, technological Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  6. 6. Page 6 Executive Summary developments are enabling the creation and development of wholly new services, ranging from multi-media health services to computer-based education and skills initiatives. The User’s Experience of Public Ser vice Delivery Attitudinal research tells us that citizens care not just about the outcomes that are delivered by public service providers, but also about the way in which those services are delivered. One aspect of user experience relates to the quality of service received. This includes issues relating to accountability and assessment – performance management, gathering and responding to feedback – as well the existence of an appropriate point of contact to ensure effective delivery and to manage any problems that might arise. Another aspect of user experience is the softer side of delivery – the nature of the user- provider interface and how it feels from the user’s perspective. This includes practical issues such as the provision of information to meet user needs, but also more personal elements – how the user’s personal needs are met and how they are treated during the transaction. Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  7. 7. Page 7 1. What Today’s Citizens Expect itizens’ expectations of public services have C risen. Individuals today expect many of the same kinds of services from the public sector range of initiatives that aim to raise the standards of public ser vices to meet contemporar y expectations, whilst maintaining or improving as they do from the private sector – choice, their efficiency. This report presents some of the convenience and service offerings that respond and latest international examples of customer service adapt to individual needs over time. in the provision of public services, as well as some analysis of how service providers have addressed When the US political thinkers Osborne and the delivery challenges. Gaebler published Reinventing Government in 1992, they commented that ‘few people in This chapter contains a brief discussion about government ever use the word customer’. But they citizens as public service customers. Chapter 2 added that contemporary citizens wanted to be explores how governments are joining-up services treated as customers. As they saw it, a fundamental to make delivery more efficient and effective. shift had occurred since the industrial era of Chapter 3 discusses the personalisation of service the post-war years. US society had come to be delivery. Chapter 4 examines how new technology dominated not by blue-collar workers, but by white- is opening up new ways of serving users. Finally, collar or knowledge workers. The collective culture Chapter 5 examines the user experience of public of the nineteen-fifties, where citizens were happy services, from accountability and responsiveness to to accept without question the public services softer aspects of customer-provider interface. available, had given way to a diverse market-driven society made up of individuals with varied tastes, Citizens as Customers values and life-styles. These individuals expected to be able to access products and services to suit The public sector often looks to the private sector their personal needs and wants. Increasingly, they for ideas about the best ways to meet customer expected these attributes from public services as service needs. This has proved a rich source of well as from the private sector. 1 inspiration. Yet, the way citizens access and receive public services is much more complex than the way This shift has become increasingly apparent across they purchase products and services in consumer the developed world over the past decade. Several markets. factors have contributed to this. Increased choice in consumer markets has encouraged people to expect Supply and Demand the same across all the services they access. The communications revolution, in particular the rise of Citizens do not necessarily choose to receive public the Internet, has increased the amount of accessible services. Individuals may decide to travel by public information about available service options. More transport, but children are usually required to go broadly, citizens of a stable and prosperous society to school (and parents to ensure that they do). whose basic, collective needs of economic and Patients typically need to access medical care, but physical security have largely been met, have the probably wish that they did not. luxury of expecting more from their public services. Identifying the ‘customer’ base for public services In response to this change in public attitudes, and understanding service needs can be complex. governments and public agencies have pursued a Customers of custodial services include both Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  8. 8. Page 8 1. What Today’s Citizens Expect prisoners and the wider public. Prisoners have only Choices are also made at organisational level, for a limited say in the service that they are provided, example, when a government department or local whilst the public has no direct interaction with the authority chooses on behalf of its citizens to award service itself, but has a real interest in the outcomes a service contract to a particular provider. that it delivers. The two groups have very different needs. UK Choice Policies Under The New Labour Government Another distinct characteristic of public service The UK Labour Government has been a keen markets is the way that market development advocate of choice in public services since its is financed. Consumer markets are built on election in 1997, so the subject has been much the principle that individuals will pay more to debated. The UK Parliament’s Public Administration receive better quality goods or services, and that Select Committee conducted an inquiry on Choice this funding will enable suppliers to reinvest in and Voice in Public Ser vices in 2005, which developing their offerings. By contrast, public addressed such questions as whether the public service markets are limited by government spending really wants choice, whether there is enough capacity constraints, so if citizens demand more of public in the public sector to make it work effectively, services, this frequently has to be achieved without choice and equity, choice and marketisation, choice a corresponding rise in funding. This poses a and performance and choice and efficiency. The fundamental challenge to governments as service Committee concluded that, whilst service users do providers. not necessarily rank choice as their highest priority from public services (elements such as quality and What Citizens Want access are also important), they do place value in the opportunity to exercise choice and to take What does customer service look like when it comes control of certain decisions about the services to public services? Given the constraints, what that they receive. This applies particularly where are the characteristics of citizen-centric service in the choices have a direct impact on their lives. The government? Select Committee report can be accessed at http:// Choice cmselect/cmpubadm/49/4902.htm. 2 Central to customer-focused service delivery is the concept of choice. Not all public services are Information accessed through an act of choice, but elements of choice can occur at various levels – choice of Unless citizens know what services are available, service provider (e.g. between different schools how they are evolving and how they can be accessed, or hospitals, private or public), service type (e.g. then those services cannot fulfil their potential and different medical treatments or educational options) effective choices cannot be made. or access (what channel and when). Technological advances, including the development Choice can be exercised by service users themselves, of the Internet, have opened new communication or by relatives, carers or professional representatives channels between governments and citizens. on their behalf (e.g. doctors on behalf of patients). However, traditional interaction – face-to-face, Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  9. 9. Page 9 1. What Today’s Citizens Expect telephone or writing – continues to be important for Responsiveness is not just a mechanical process of many people. Different user groups have different providing feedback. If done well, it will also address needs and preferences about how to access service the citizen’s experience of service delivery – how information, so governments use a variety of they feel they are treated and the nature of the approaches to keep their citizens informed. customer-provider interface. Voice Accessibility It is equally important for citizens to be able to Different citizen groups may need to access communicate with their service providers. Customer public services in different ways. On the one voice can be exercised in various ways, collectively, hand, accessibility is a matter of convenience or individually – for example, through formal – today’s consumers expect to be able to access consultation or in the form of direct feedback services at a time and place, and in a manner that (face-to-face or through comment and complaint suits them. On the other hand, there is the question channels). Again, new technologies have increased of equity – public services need to be accessible to the voice channels available, although to reach the all those citizens that require them, which means widest possible range of service users, traditional that a range of approaches may be necessary to channels also have to be made available. reach out across all groups. It has sometimes been argued that voice as a Meeting Public Expectations tool for user-driven service delivery favours the educated middle-classes, who are typically better Despite the differences between public service informed about their rights and options, more markets and consumer markets, research has articulate and more inclined to speak out to secure shown that when citizens are asked what they want effective outcomes for themselves and their families. from their public services, consumer services are To ensure that service provision is effective and commonly used as the basis for comparison. So how inclusive, governments may choose to supplement does government measure up? user-led channels with voice-based policies that include focus groups, surveys and other methods Consumer research from the UK suggests citizens that deliberately target a wider cross-section of feel businesses, especially supermarkets, are better society. than public services at responding to their needs. They understand that this is because companies have Responsiveness an incentive to deliver a good service in order to retain their customers. By contrast, while individuals Citizens expect to be heard and service users experience pockets of responsiveness from public expect to be told how their input has been services, they tend to regard this as luck, rather than used. Responsiveness might mean a simple being the normal situation. 3 acknowledgement. It might mean adapting or changing ser vices following feedback. Taken When respondents to the British Attitudes Survey further, it might mean tailoring services to suit the 2005 were asked ‘Who is best at providing a good individual, through choice, personalisation or other quality service?’, 51% answered ‘private companies’ user-specific approaches. and 41% answered ‘government’. 4 Similar surveys Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  10. 10. Page 10 1. What Today’s Citizens Expect in other areas indicated that although overall satisfaction levels were more or less the same for public and private sector services, the private sector rated higher across all areas relating to customer service. On the other hand, while citizens increasingly expect services to be tailored to their individual needs, one area where their attitude to public services differs noticeably from their behaviour in consumer markets is the importance they place on equality of access. Respondents to a 2005 UK National Consumer Council study of public expectations of government services said that they ‘wanted everyone to have the assurance of a good service’. 5 In this regard citizens clearly place government ahead of business. Three-quarters of respondents to the British Attitudes Survey ranked the public sector more highly than business on ‘ensuring that services reach those who need them’, compared to one in five who felt business had the edge. For governments then, good customer service is also about ensuring that services are accessible and responsive to the needs of each and every citizen. This is a demanding level of expectation and one that is not applied to the same extent to private sector providers. The remaining sections of this report consider some of the ways governments around the world are seeking to cope with this challenge. Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  11. 11. Page 11 2. New Initiatives for Joining-Up Services ublic services have traditionally been delivered through a single access point. P directly by a department, agency or local authority. Under this model, the individual is Cross-Government Collaboration typically dealt with each time on a one-off basis, in much the same way that customers purchase goods Technology is a powerful enabler for joining-up from a shop. However, technological developments disparate activities, and it will continue to play a in recent decades have made it increasingly easy to major role in the transformation of public services. join-up services across organisational, transactional However, governments have employed it in different and geographical boundaries to provide a more ways. integrated service. Contact Centres The benefits to the customer of joined-up service initiatives include easier management of data, faster Contact centres are widely used by both the public transactions and increased accessibility. For service and private sector for joining-up services. Contact providers, benefits include efficiency gains from the centres are single entry points to a service, usually pooling of back office services to create economies accessed by telephone, but sometimes by post, email, of scale, and performance benefits from shared data Internet (and, more recently, instant messaging). and resources. Through a contact centre, citizens can obtain advice, assistance, information or other forms of support Despite these advantages, the public sector faces without having to understand the detailed workings significant challenges in moving to joined-up service of the system. provision. A recent UK National Audit Office report found that public sector organisations were Contact centres are not new, but historically they discouraged from sharing services by a lack of have had a fairly narrow remit – calling 999 in the financial incentives to buy services from and sell to UK accesses the emergency services, but nothing other organisations, poor quality performance data else. However, to better serve users and to increase making it hard to quantify the benefits, taxation efficiency, single access points are increasingly being issues and problems of perception. 6 To embrace used across a much broader range of services. the full potential of collaboration, governments New York City’s 311 telephone call centre replaces need to address these barriers, and raise awareness 40 separate centres and 14 pages of telephone amongst departments and agencies of the benefits numbers, and offers 24-hour access to information of joined-up delivery. about almost any public service in the city. France’s ‘Allô, Service Public’ telephone channel is a Ser vices can be joined up both horizontally similar service. and vertically – across different departments or organisations, and between local, regional and In Finland, the Population Register Centre and national levels. It can also be done in different ways, TeliaSonera Finland have introduced an alternative from the physical amalgamation of assets, to the to the traditional contact centre – a State Citizen sharing of information across multiple sites. It can Certificate which is built into a mobile phone SIM involve the integration of back office functions card and can be used to identify the user with a single whilst maintaining multiple front office channels; code for easier access to both public and private but it can also involve channelling multiple services sector services. ( Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  12. 12. Page 12 2. New Initiatives for Joining-Up Services showarticle.asp?intNWSAID=30340) Registration Office website. Pos Malaysia – Cross-Government Service Delivery through To encourage cross-agency collaboration, the a Third Party Agent Swedish g overnment used certain str uctural tools. A framework procurement ag reement An interesting cross-government initiative in on e-infrastructure services (‘Infra Services’), Malaysia involves a third party business organisation, introduced in 2004, serves to connect multiple the Malaysia Postal Service, Pos Malaysia (www.pos. functions and suppliers of infrastructure, support,, acting as a single access point for citizens case management, design and implementation to services across various government departments, services to a number of subscribers (e.g. several statutory bodies and other private companies. As agencies) under a contract-based arrangement. The trusted agent to these organisations, Pos Malaysia aim is to incentivise joint working and facilitate the conducts a wide range of transactions on their introduction of e-services into public administration behalf. by offering an alternative to the more costly option of agencies building their own online services. The The Pos Malaysia service is a one-stop shop for a framework also helps drive common approaches range of government-related business, from bill or and standards across agencies. 7 tax payments, to driving licence renewals, to voter registration. It also offers non-governmental services, The Danish government has created specific from booking flights and hotels to shopping for crosscutting bodies to help implement a client- products and appliances. The service incorporates centered, cross-government approach to service various customer-focussed enhancements to increase delivery. For example, the Board of eGovernment, accessibility and convenience for citizens, such as which has primar y responsibility for the drive-thru counters at some locations and extended development of the eGovernment program, is a operating hours. multi-jurisdictional committee with representatives from the Danish government, regions, local g over nment, Copenhag en municipality and e-Government Initiatives Frederiksberg municipality. ( About/eGovernment+in+Denmark.htm?wbc_purp The Scandinavian countries seem to be leaders in ose=Basic&WBCMODE=PresentationUnpublishe cross-government collaboration, and both Sweden d) and Denmark have embraced the Internet to link services across departmental boundaries. Service Specific Initiatives Sweden has prioritised the development of networked public agencies, with the intention that Service-specific hubs are also emerging, bringing citizens and businesses should not have to contact together all transactions relating to a particular more than one place about any issue. For example, activity for convenience and efficiency. In citizens wanting to register a company are able Denmark, the National Agency for Enterprise and to access and file the necessary documents on a Construction has introduced a Public Information dedicated website, which can be accessed either Server that offers public authorities, businesses and from the Tax Board website or the Companies citizens access to national property data through a Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  13. 13. Page 13 2. New Initiatives for Joining-Up Services single portal (Offentlige Informations Server: www. come together in an initiative called the Municipal Using a digital signature or government- Platform to identify common services and processes, issued ‘Centrale Person Register’ number and pin which are listed on an inventory. The Platform aims code, users can access information about a property, to raise awareness of the potential for economies send change requests to the relevant municipality of scale through collaboration, and to facilitate the and print information from the Danish Building and development of e-services. 8 Housing Register. Co-Location of Service Provision in Bury St Edmunds Australia’s Business Entr y Point transaction Public Service Village manager (, provides a fast and easy way for businesses to manage government Bury St Edmunds Public Service Village (PSV) administration and transactions online without in the UK brings together different ser vices having to understand how individual organisations horizontally, and also links the local borough council or agencies work. From a single website, users can and county departments. At its most basic, the PSV access more than 5,500 transactions with agencies concept is a public service accommodation initiative, across all three levels of government (federal, state replacing a number of geographically dispersed and local). For small businesses in particular, this has buildings with a more effective arrangement on a significant advantages. single site. Customers need no longer be confused and inconvenienced by having to go from building In Finland, a joint service between pension funds to building. However, by joining up front-of-office and the Finnish Centre for Pensions provides services in one place, the council aims to deliver a single personal employment record for every improved, joined-up services in which integration of individual insured under Finnish earnings-related council activity is encouraged. pension schemes. Through a front-of-house portal, fund-holders can check the accuracy of their Staff will work together across organisational personal employment information, identify the boundaries to deliver consistent services, and company that manages their pension and calculate service users do not need to be concerned about pensions estimates online. ( who employs which staff. The eco-friendly new building is furnished on a ratio of approximately Local and Regional Collaboration seven desks to ten employees, who are encouraged to work flexibly or from home, as appropriate. The Joining-up has also been introduced successfully building itself is designed to be flexible if service at local and regional levels. A UK example is the requirements change: Worcestershire Hub, a partnership between six aio/6441770. district councils and Worcestershire county council to streamline local services provided by the councils and a number of partner organisations. It provides Local, Regional and National Collaboration a Web portal and network of customer service centres. ( The UK’s Directgov portal provides a wide range of htm?partner=hub) information and services from across central, local and regional government. The site, managed by the In Sweden, a number of municipalities have Central Office of Information, covers issues from Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  14. 14. Page 14 2. New Initiatives for Joining-Up Services travel safety and parental leave advice, to special national portal also extends to offer information educational needs and local health services. It also on Indian culture and heritage, national events and provides access to government directories and various activities, governmental and national affairs, links to trusted third party service providers such academic information and services for Indian and as advice and support organisations for those in overseas students, employment, travel or business need. Citizens can also carry out a variety of online services. transactions, including booking driving tests, paying car tax, renewing passports and applying for student Singapore’s eCitizen portal also stands out in terms loans. ( of what it has achieved in front and back office integration in both business and citizen services. In 2007, Singapore was ranked the world’s leading Norway’s Mypage Citizen Self-Service Portal nation in citizen-centricity of public ser vice provision. 9 The key front office innovation on the Norway’s Mypage portal provides a ‘one-stop citizen side is MyeCitizen, a subsite of the main shop’ for citizens across a range of public services eCitizen portal ( ( It is particularly jsp), where users can login for more personalised ambitious in scale and scope, covering local, regional interaction. The site offers both private and public and national levels, and has had significant take- sector services and content, organised under a up across the country. According to the European series of ‘channels’, such as family, home, travel Union’s eGovernment awards, Mypage exceeded and money. On the business side, EnterpriseOne 200,000 registered users in less than 4 months ( provides information following its launch in 2006 – approximately 5% of and services from across 30 government agencies, as the Norwegian population. well as information from partnerships with business associations and chambers of commerce. When Mypage won the eGovernment award for participation and transparency in 2007, Connecting with Remote or Hard to Reach User described the site as a triumph for putting citizens’ Communities needs at the centre of service planning (http:// A notable feature One of the difficulties with joining up government of Mypage is that it enables citizens to manage services using ICT is that some communities are the information that the public sector holds about better served than others, with the result that service them. This has positive benefits for the accuracy provision becomes unequal. For government this is and effectiveness of government record-keeping. an important consideration. However, if done well, For example, some users have discovered anomalies, such services can serve as a tool for reaching out to such as being registered for properties or vehicles remote or less well-served groups and communities. they did not own. Similar services are available elsewhere, for example, France ( english.html), Singapore ( sg/ and India ( The Indian Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  15. 15. Page 15 2. New Initiatives for Joining-Up Services Joining-up local and national services in Estonia income and language barriers. In response, they are developing ePedoman, a bilingual, bidirectional The government of Estonia has developed a search and directory function that allows users scheme to help connect rural areas to wider public to browse both English and Malay websites, sector activities using the Internet. The Village Road regardless of their own mother tongue. In Japan, project links local government and public libraries an e-Ambassador has also been set up to encourage to the Internet. To encourage residents of rural citizens to volunteer to help members of their communities to access these sites, a scheme has been community unfamiliar with ICT: http://www.mofa. introduced to encourage teachers and agricultural workers to buy PCs, with the aim of making the session/p17.html. Internet accessible to everyone. The inhabitants of every village are also entitled to free Internet access. Raising awareness is a key success factor for any front-facing joined-up ser vice initiative. The At national level, Cabinet decisions are published Canadian government, consistently voted among online just minutes after being taken, using a service the highest performers in e-government and citizen- called eCabinet. Under a separate initiative called focussed innovation, publicised its national portal X-Road, all government databases have been joined- through traditional marketing channels, including up to improve efficiency and effectiveness. Different television, radio and print media ( systems are linked through the government intranet, Similarly, the Singaporean government used various and quality is managed through a national Database publicity and promotional channels to improve take- Registry – only data systems that meet prescribed up of its initiatives, including broadcast and print criteria can access X-Road and the information media. that it holds. As with Mypage in Norway, citizens are also permitted to access the information that government holds about them, after authentification of their identity using their national ID card. The online environment can be personalised to suit the individual user, for example by selecting connections to local services relevant to them. Official website (in Estonian): https://www.eesti. ee/tom/ Article about the initiatives in English: http://www. In Sing apore, a dedicated org anisation, the Infocomm Development Authority (IDA) was set up, with responsibility not only for strategic leadership in design and implementation of an e-Revolution, but also for managing barriers to digital development. Target areas include mindset, Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  16. 16. Page 16 3. Making Public Services More Personal ersonalisation of public services can mean School Choice P various things. At one end of the scale, this might involve a more friendly service, with staff Different models of school choice have emerged being more respectful in their interaction with around the world. The Netherlands, Denmark, customers, and increased opportunities for users to Sweden and Chile have universal choice: parents provide feedback once they have accessed a service. are free to choose any government or independent At the other end of the scale, personalisation school in any location. Australia also has an might involve opportunities for more active user education system that involves extensive choice. In involvement in decisions about service delivery, the United States choice has been targeted at specific such as allowing individuals to decide where money client groups – typically those on low incomes. The allocated to them is spent. Or it may involve users United Kingdom, Belgium and New Zealand are becoming involved in the actual design of a service, among the nations that have introduced some level managing a personal budget or a service package. of choice. Issues of user interface, including the provision Universal School Choice – Sweden and receipt of feedback, are dealt with elsewhere in this report. Therefore, this chapter focuses Sweden is the global leader in school choice, having on two specific types of personalisation: firstly, introduced a universal voucher scheme in the early examples of initiatives that give users more direct 1990s. Each child is allocated a voucher equivalent say over the service that they receive; and secondly, to the cost of state education and parents may use the involvement of users as co-designers of their this voucher at the school of their choice in the services. (There are some overlaps between these independent or state sectors. These vouchers cannot forms of personalisation.) be topped up (schools accepting vouchers may not charge more than the value of the voucher) and Giving Users a Direct Say Over the Service admission is on a first-come, first-served basis: in other words schools cannot claim the brightest or Around the world, personalisation in the form of wealthiest pupils; parental choice is the deciding user direction and design has often been applied factor. in complex human services such as education, health and social care. However, these are also the In tandem with their demand-side reforms, areas where choice-based policies are the most Sweden’s government encourages new entrants to controversial and where issues of equity and the supply market. Independent schools must meet inclusiveness are most likely to arise. a handful of straightforward requirements to qualify as eligible for government vouchers. The result is One way for governments to provide citizens with that a wide diversity of suppliers, including many greater influence over their public services, whilst private for-profit companies, build and operate maintaining a level of control over provision, is schools in the independent sector. through systems that allow choice within defined boundaries. In this way, services can be managed These expansive reforms have brought significant as required and targeted at specific user groups as improvements. Sweden’s National Agency for deemed appropriate. Education has reported, ‘On average pupils in independent schools have higher merit ratings than Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  17. 17. Page 17 3. Making Public Services More Personal pupils in municipal schools’. 10 They have also been observed in outcomes between those students found to increase social integration, while municipal accepted to the scheme and those rejected. But as schools exposed to competition have been found to the scheme has evolved, students participating in the increase in efficiency and performance. scheme have achieved significantly better educational outcomes than comparable groups not participating. Universal choice is also available in the Netherlands and Denmark, each having the right to educational Similar results have been obser ved in similar choice enshrined in their constitutions. This schemes in Michigan and Arizona, and the success empowers parents to set up schools, define the of these has encouraged implementation of choice principles and ethos, and lead curricula and teaching. elsewhere. In the District of Columbia, the Choice In the Netherlands to establish a school only 50 Incentive Program issues grants of up to $7,500 parents are needed in towns with a population of to the students of parents whose income does fewer than 25,000 and only 125 parents in towns not exceed 200% of the poverty line; these grants over 100,000. This freedom means that 70% of may be used to attend any school of their choice. Dutch students attend an independent school. Colorado, Florida and Cleveland, Ohio are among the authorities to operate similar schemes targeted Targeted School Choice – United States at those on low incomes and in low-performing districts. Local governments at state and city level enjoy significant autonomy in setting education policy, and systems vary considerably across the nation Personalisation in Health Services (although devolution of this kind may not, of itself, result in significant choice). The reasons for One commonly cited problem with choice and adopting choice in education also vary: for example, personalisation in health services is that citizens in Vermont and Maine the state government has may not know how to identify their best treatment. historically paid for students from isolated small In the UK, several approaches have been adopted towns and rural areas to attend either government to ensure that patients make informed decisions. or independent schools elsewhere in the state. Patient Care Advisers are used to help patients access and understand information and to make In the main, however, US authorities have targeted choices about their care. They provide a first point choice at those on low incomes. The best known of contact for advice on service selection and then scheme is operated in Milwaukee, Wisconsin. The throughout the treatment process. Milwaukee Parental Choice Program (MPCP), which began in 1990, enables students to attend private Similarly, the Expert Patients Programme (EPP) schools in the city, paid for by state aid (in 2007/08 provides training for people with chronic conditions, the maximum MPCP state aid for a student was to help them develop the skills they need to take $6,501). Eligibility is based on residency in the city effective control of their lives and care. Courses and, for first-time applicants, a household income are designed to cater for individual needs, including that does not exceed 175% of the Federal Poverty for those in marginalised social groups. The EPP Level. is broader in focus than the Patient Care Advisers Scheme in helping individuals to make broader In the early days of MPCP, little difference was lifestyle choices, rather than simply providing advice Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  18. 18. Page 18 3. Making Public Services More Personal on available healthcare options. As such, it should but an overview remains available online: http:// work well alongside self-directed service initiatives of the type discussed later in this chapter, and is part of a wider government drive to introduce more user The UK government has introduced a Child Trust control in health services. Fund (CTF) scheme whereby the parents of any child born after September 2002 are allocated a Choice Based Lettings in Social Housing £250 voucher (£500 for lower income households or vulnerable children) to invest in a CTF account In the social housing sector, the UK government of their choice. A wide variety of such accounts has implemented a housing policy adapted from are provided, by both retail finance providers and the Netherlands, known as Choice Based Lettings government, and accounts carry different levels of (CBL), which offers increased control of outcomes risk. Once the investment is made, the account can for public housing applicants. Unlike traditional be topped up as desired by family or friends, up to ways of managing waiting lists for social housing, a maximum annual allowance. However, the fund CBL enables applicants (and existing tenants cannot be drawn upon until the child is 18 years seeking transfers) to apply for vacancies from old. If no investment is made within a required time the full range of properties available, which are period, the government invests the money on the advertised locally (in local newspapers or websites), child’s behalf. provided that it is a property for which they are eligible – a single person would not be allocated Engaging Users as Co-Designers of Services a 3-bedroom house. Urgent cases receive priority, but otherwise allocations are made on a first- Governments are also involving individuals more come, first-served basis. Unsuccessful applicants actively in the design of their services, enabling receive feedback to help them assess their chance them to develop a solution that is tailored to their of success in future applications. Because the particular needs. Many of the best examples of this system transfers a significant degree of control are to be found in the field of social care. to citizens, it should offer important flexibility benefits, but much depends on the supply market. Personalised Budgets http://www.c ommu nit ie s.g ov.u k /hous i ng / housingmanagementcare/choicebasedlettings/ Personalised budgeting involves the allocation of a cash budget to individuals, enabling them Personalised Benefits Schemes to buy their own bundle of public services. This enables them to shape production to meet their In 2001 the Government of Singapore instituted own personal requirements. Under a personalised New Singapore Shares (NSS), a non-transferable, budgeting system, the individual’s cash budget varies non-tradable, interest-earning asset distributed according to social need. among the poorest in society according to need. The NSS system (which finished in late 2007) To date, personalised budgets have been used was accessible online, allowing eligible citizens to primarily for specific client groups in social care. monitor their NSS endowment and request that the However, there is a general belief that the idea Central Provident Fund Board (CPFB) exchange has much wider applicability. Evidence from both their shares for cash. The service has now closed, the UK and the US suggests that services become Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  19. 19. Page 19 3. Making Public Services More Personal more responsive and user-satisfaction rises when choice of a personal assistant compatible with personalised budgeting is introduced. Some their personal needs and interests rather than one commentators have also reported reduced costs allocated by the local authority. Empowering users associated with this approach. to procure their own services resulted in better service outcomes. It has been claimed that the principles of equity are best met within a traditional producer-driven model, Additionally, respondents reported increased but steps can be taken to address these concerns, control. Under traditional provision, users’ routines including the provision of support for budget were built around when their services were available. holders that need it. Under self-direction, users integrated services into their routine. They could also control who came The UK social care sector introduced a personalised into their house rather than passively waiting for a budgeting policy known as Direct Payments in 1997, stranger. initially for specific client groups. The success and popularity of this scheme has led to an expansion A third key advantage highlighted by Direct of the policy and since 2003 local authorities have Payment recipients was flexibility. Users were able to offered the scheme to all adult social care users. influence more readily the time of assistance and the nature of tasks carried out, which could change at Under a Direct Payments scheme, local authorities short notice. pay cash directly to those who qualify for care rather than providing the social care service themselves. Finally, there was the advantage of opportunity. Recipients then use the cash allocation to meet their Half of users reported that employing their personal individual needs from the wider community. assistant themselves created social opportunities and so increased their personal well-being. They also Direct Payments in Social Care – London Borough of Tower reported greater scope to take opportunities inside Hamlets the workplace, as a result of the greater control and flexibility of the scheme. A 2006 study of recipients of Direct Payments for social care in the London Borough of Tower Challenges Hamlets provided some insights on the policy. Drawing on interviews with 30 service users and 15 The biggest challenge presented by Direct Payments personal assistants, the study explored why service occurred in the initial start-up period. Burdensome users chose to use Direct Payments rather than accounts and paperwork proved demanding to traditional local authority procurement, and the users and this contributed to a lengthy initial influence that this had on the service they received. start-up period, between six weeks and four months from the needs assessment to receipt of Advantages the first Direct Payment. These problems were essentially procedural, and thus should be subject Respondents to the study highlighted choice as an to improvement, but Direct Payment assessment advantage of Direct Payments: users enjoy greater and allocation was initially a complicated process choice over the type of service they received meaning that the challenge of start-up delays is and over the service provider. They also had the unlikely to be eliminated entirely. Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  20. 20. Page 20 3. Making Public Services More Personal A further challenge reported was that of relief to a level of independence that can be sustained. workers. Personal assistants were recruited from The budgets have to be spent on goods and services a diversity of sources but with the exception of that improve an individual’s mental health, but there agency workers did not typically come from a large is a reasonable degree of flexibility – the brokerage organisation. As such, users often faced difficulties recognises that, for some individuals, alternative with recruiting relief workers – and with paying therapies can be as effective as medication. them from Direct Payment dedicated bank accounts.11 Users of the Empowerment Initiatives Brokerage Other countries have systems similar to the UK are assigned a resource broker who works with them Direct Payments scheme. For example, Sweden to identify recovery goals and to plan how best to and Denmark have municipal level systems of use their budget. Brokers help them to navigate the direct payments in personal care for the elderly and public system to access other sources of financial physically disabled. and community support, thereby increasing the impact of the scheme. The support of the brokers A well-known US example of personalised alongside the budget is considered a vital element budgeting is the Medicaid Cash and Counselling in the success of the programme. (http://www. programme, under which eligible recipients receive a monthly voucher to buy disability-related goods and services that suit their needs (including hiring a carer Personalised Support for Citizens with Developmental of their choice). The scheme also offers counselling Disabilities in Four US States and financial assistance, and users have the option of designating a representative to make decisions on In the United States, there is growing adoption their behalf. Medicaid specifically targets less well- of person-centred ser vices for people with educated and lower income groups that are typically developmental disabilities. T hese empower less well served by other parts of the US healthcare individuals and families to shape services, but within system. a support framework of planning teams, with trained case managers. Case Management The ser vices are organised in different ways In some cases, particularly with social welfare according to individual state legislation, ranging ser vices where users may have difficulty in from a heavily centralised system administered at understanding the complexity of different public state-level, to regional-level distribution, to highly and private programmes and protecting their decentralised services administered by individual interests, government may need to support the communities. No one approach is considered extension of choice through the provision of case superior, but a recent study of four states managers. (Connecticut, Kansas, Wisconsin and Wyoming), each with a different delivery approach, identified a In the US, the Empowerment Initiatives Brokerage, series of common success factors: which operates in several counties in Oregon provides a personal budget to individuals with - Clear, specific allocation of funds to each serious and persistent mental illness to support their individual, to enable planning teams and individuals recovery. The objective of the scheme is to start the to make clear, sustainable decisions on support and recovery process and within a year to move people Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  21. 21. Page 21 3. Making Public Services More Personal services; the service recipient. A UK-based scheme that follows this model is the In Control partnership. - Open and competitive supply markets that ensure In Control enables individuals to design their own funding is portable where service users want to care plan and manage the budget to pay for it, to exercise choice; commission services and subsequently to alter the plan as required. However, risk is spread between - Autonomy for users and families to make choices the individual and the authority, and where the user among qualified options: each individual is free to is unwilling or able to perform these tasks then peer pick their own service worker and, once the budget and professional support networks are available to has been allocated, to determine what and how provide support ( service and support are provided; Based on the experience with In Control, the - Flexibility for users and families to initiate services UK government introduced a new pilot scheme with minimal constraints; for social care to run alongside Direct Payments – the ‘Individual Budgets Programme’ (http:// - Quality assurance and improvement through Whereas monitoring and support from the state authority, Direct Payments only cover local authority social with high levels of co-ordination and resource for care budgets, Individual Budgets bring together case managers. funds from various agencies, including local authority social services, community equipment, Implications for authorities considering independent living funds, disabled facilities grants implementation of person-centred services are that and other specific programmes, to deliver a more it requires a clear focus on person-centred services joined-up care package and to make the service through strategic planning and/or legislation. more adaptable to individual needs. Effective collaboration and a shared vision among all stakeholders are also essential. Case management Individual Budgets involve the allocation of a needs to be effectively structured, through training single transparent sum and held on their behalf. and funding, and quality management should focus Individuals can choose to take this money out as a on the user, within a framework of self-advocacy. direct cash payment, as services, or as a mixture of In each of the four states there was a tipping point both cash and services, up to the value of their total where a sufficient number of people were receiving budget. Budgets can be spent on any combination person-centred supports to create momentum for of services from across the funding sources, or on change throughout the system. 12 the purchase of equipment. This approach aims to provide more flexibility for individuals to choose Self-Directed Services services tailored to their specific needs. As with In Control, the ability to decide whether to take the Medicaid and the Empower ment Initiatives money as cash or services also caters for individuals Brokerage (discussed above), venture further who do not wish to take on the direct responsibility towards the cutting-edge of personalisation, in of managing their budget and employing their own offering self-directed services. Self-direction moves care staff. a step further than personalised budgeting, in that greater control and choice are transferred to A more localised UK example of self-directed Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  22. 22. Page 22 3. Making Public Services More Personal services is the Kingston Centre for Independent Living – disabled and older people catered for by the Centre can arrange and manage their own support As part of a range of police reforms in recent years, systems. Rather than the council directly providing the UK government has endeavoured to localise the service, recipients choose their own carers, police management and address local priorities and means of travel and equipment. They also choose concerns through public consultation. In February what proportion of their budget goes on each of 2008, a new scheme was announced under which these three areas ( every household in England and Wales to be given a mobile phone number to call new Neighbourhood Collective Personalisation Police teams. This is primarily a case of localisation, but for collectively consumed goods such as law One form of personalisation that overlaps both and order, localisation may deliver personalisation of the categories discussed above, is to be found in delivering services more tailored to specific in ‘collective personalisation’, where communities needs ( or specific user groups play a communal role in Neighbourhood-Policing-Plan_15665.html). adapting and even designing the services that they receive. At the extreme end of collective personalisation is a scenario where certain user-initiated services One such example is Practice Based Commissioning become mainstreamed in public life. A recent (PBC), a UK Department of Health scheme that review undertaken for the UK Cabinet Office (The has been described as the equivalent of Individual Power of Information: http://www.cabinetoffice. Budgets in social care. In this case, the decision makers are health care practices acting as agents for uk/strategy/power_information.pdf) suggested their patients (individually or as a group). Under that before creating new websites to infor m PBC, health care practices have more control over citizens about areas of public service provision, resources. They receive indicative budgets and can government departments might consult with the see what proportion of their secondary care budget operators of existing user-generated sites covering is spent where, allowing them to make changes to the same issues and consider options for forming free up money for user groups that they consider to partnerships with them. Whilst well received, the have particular needs. ideas from this report were still being debated at the time of the publication of this report and were not A cutting-edge example of collective personalisation, yet government policy. also from the UK, is School Works, an independent, not-for-profit company that works in partnership with the Depar tment for Children, Schools and Families and a variety of construction and design firms to improve school and educational perfor mance through innovative design and consultation practices. Based on the principle that built environment is highly influential on behaviours and outcomes, School Works attempts to tailor the school surroundings to the specific needs and wants of individual schools’ pupils and teachers (http:// Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  23. 23. Page 23 4. New Ways of Serving Users through New Technologies s demonstrated throughout this report, new The smartcard is pre-loaded with details of the A technologies are having a significant impact on the way in which citizens access and experience beneficiary’s fingerprints and with a photograph, in order to prevent fraudulent use. The great advantage public services. This chapter considers the role of the system is that it ensures that these benefits that technological developments are playing, on reach some of the most needy members of the the one hand, in facilitating the development of community, who would otherwise slip through the existing services to improve access and outcomes net because they do not meet the requirements for citizens, and on the other hand, in enabling the needed to open an account with a commercial bank. creation and development of wholly new services. The scheme enables them to enjoy the benefits of a bank account, to earn interest on their money Facilitating Existing Service Provision Using and to make cash withdrawals at any time from Technology automatic teller machines or post office branches. North West Province pays out more than R800 Inclusion and Access million per month in payments, little of which previously reached interest-earning accounts. Under A key driver for governments to embrace new this scheme, if just 6% of the total sum earns technology in public service delivery is the desire interest, the recipients receive an additional R11.5 to improve interaction with groups that are hard million a year in income. Those who live in remote to reach – for example, those whose access to communities are also saved the time and cost of services is constrained by location or other factors. travelling long distances to queue at a traditional Of course, technology does not always provide the payout point to access their benefits. best means of improving inclusiveness. Some users do not have access to the latest technologies, or are uncomfortable using it. But there are examples An innovative application of technology to improve where technology has been used successfully to accessibility to welfare provision is Italy’s ‘Vicky’ improve services for such users. system – a ‘virtual assistant’ for social security, accessible online and via mobile phones, which can Paymaster to the Nation, South Africa answer complex questions, learn from user input and, crucially from an accessibility point of view, The South African Post Office launched an award- understand the user’s native language (http://vicky. winning scheme, Paymaster to the Nation, which Many countries now offer some form of aims to reduce fraud and hardship, and improve online access to government benefits services – see access to pensions and welfare payments for the Centrelink for Australia ( elderly and infirm, particularly those in remote areas. au) and the US ‘govbenefits’ site (www.govbenefits. The scheme has been piloted in the country’s North gov). West Province, with plans to roll it out elsewhere. The Post Office also plans to franchise the service A different way that technology can enhance access to other African countries. to services is where it is used to facilitate provision for user groups with special requirements. For Under the scheme, individuals use a ‘smartcard’ example, the Danish National Library for the Blind to access welfare grants and pensions that are has developed a digital library service for visually deposited directly into a personal Postbank account. impaired and dyslexic citizens, which offers e-books, Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  24. 24. Page 24 4. New Ways of Serving Users through New Technologies digital talking books and Braille materials. The Transport has introduced a self-service facility service is offered through a 24-hour Internet portal, whereby individuals can apply online for provisional and physical materials can be ordered for delivery driving licences, supported by identity data from the ( Identity and Passport Service. This is a simpler and faster process than the previous system of paper More Efficient Use of Data applications through the Post Office, which required support in the form of appropriate documentary The collection of information in one place has evidence and could take several weeks to process. benefits in ease of access, the ability to cross- The cross-referencing of data between departments reference and increased efficiency: among other is an example of the move towards joined-up things, technological development has resulted in government. improved convenience, time saving, enhanced access and a wider range of delivery options. Mobility and Convenience Either providers or recipients can engage in data A number of municipal and state agencies allow management. Under the most advanced models, citizens to pay for services (such as parking and road mechanisms have been introduced for users to use charges) using their mobile phones. In Finland, access and manage their own personal data and the PARKIT parking payment system operates in transactions, without the need for face-to-face multiple cities, including public and some private contact or telephone interaction. However, not all parking facilities. The system enables users to start, users are willing or able to take on these tasks, so end or extend parking time with a simple phone call, governments often provide more than one channel paying via either card or billing system, without the for individuals to engage with a service. need to return to their vehicle. So users need only ever pay for the parking time that they actually use. Back-of-house data management also offers Certain locations in Denmark, the Netherlands, benefits. For example, Singapore’s Ministry of Germany, the UK and other countries offer similar Health has plans to partner with two private systems. companies, Singhealth Ser vices and National Healthcare Group, to develop an Electronic Medical In some Australian cities, users can be sent an SMS Records System Exchange (EMRX) as a single warning if the parking meter is about to expire. One access portal for patients’ medical information and jurisdiction is piloting a system of ‘virtual parking health care records for public hospitals and clinics meters’ where users can register their mobile phone across the country. The aim is to integrate services and vehicle details online and prepay for their across multiple facilities by making data available parking. Account balance and parking history can be immediately through a single source, which should checked online and account holder details updated. improve patient outcomes ranging from the user Parking wardens use WAP (wireless application experience to the quality of care (http://www2. protocol) phones or handheld devices to check that vehicles are fully paid and authorised to park. 20Medical%20Record.htm). To achieve similar improvements in convenience On the ser vice side, the UK Department for and flexibility, for both service users and workers, Leeds City Council in the UK is using a digital pen Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  25. 25. Page 25 4. New Ways of Serving Users through New Technologies with mobile phone technology to enable staff to services to allow business customers to print postage complete forms on location at citizens’ homes. The directly from a computer (see, for example, the pen transmits data via Bluetooth to their mobile UK’s Royal Mail SmartStamp service (http://www. phone, and through to a central database. This means that workers do not need to return to the office to enter data manually onto computer. More Efficient and Convenient Customer Transactions Certipost secure electronic document services, Belgium Some ser vices are particularly well suited to Certipost ( improvement through technological advances. home.html), a joint venture between Belgacom and Taxation is one such area: the Australian Tax Office The Belgian Post Group, launched in July 2003, is now offers a full online tax service for businesses a service designed to help companies, individuals and tax agents that allows a range of transactions, and public sector organisations to carry out secure and channels data from various sources through a transactions online, including e-invoicing, e-supply single portal for convenience and efficiency. The certificates and e-signatures. The service saves on site can be personalised by individual users and paper work and speeds and secures the transactional security is managed through the use of digital process for users. certificates: Similarly, in the US, the Free File website ( Users can register for a secure personal MyCertipost article/0,,id=118986,00.html) enables taxpayers to account, effectively an electronic mailbox for users. prepare and file taxes online, and obtain refunds, Holders of Belgian e-ID cards can register either much more quickly than via a paper returns process. online, or by arranging an electronic signature at one Numerous other countries have embraced online tax of 125 registration offices around the country. Once processing. 13 registered, users’ personal accounts can be used for all transactions. Postal ser vices naturally lend themselves to online usage and are widely cited as an example of an innovative market. In Germany, Deutsche Delivering High-Level Outcomes Post provides basic services, including branch information, postcode searches, postage calculators In addition to transactional and interactional and an online stamp shop and additional services services, technology can also help to deliver high- such as a facility to change address details online. level benefits in social services such as education and There is also an ePost facility with additional services employment services. For example, in education a such as e-mail, digital photo albums and magazine variety of different initiatives have been introduced subscriptions for citizens, and for businesses, a range around the world, which have both direct and of direct marketing services ( indirect benefits for citizens in terms of improved The United States Postal Service offers an Internet outcomes and user experience. mail-tracking service, Confirm, which helps business customers to plan and manage marketing activities The Romanian Ministry of Education, Research ( and Youth has introduced a National Education htm). Various countries have now introduced Database, a software package used as the main Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience
  26. 26. Page 26 4. New Ways of Serving Users through New Technologies information source for policy makers in the sector. EURES – Pan-EU Employment Portal The software serves both government and the general public by providing reports, indicators EURES is a pan-European employment network, and general information online ( with an extensive online ‘job-mobility portal’ that ro/). Portugal has developed eGAIANIMA, a tool aims to provide information, advice and recruitment that facilitates online interaction between different services to employees and employers, and individual educational stakeholders, ranging from teachers citizens keen to benefit from the EU principle of and pupils to parents and authorities. Parents can free movement and employment between member log in to check pupils’ progress, pupils can enrol countries. online in classes, teachers can complete online job applications and the site also contains a variety of EURES was originally established in 1993. It is reports and information on different elements of a collaborative venture between the European the services and relating to various aspects of the Commission and the Public Employment Services educational experience ( of the EEA Member States (the EU countries plus Norway, Iceland and Liechtenstein) and other In tertiary education, a number of countries have partner organisations. Switzerland also collaborates developed electronic tools to help students applying in EURES. for financial assistance. The US Free Application for Federal Student Aid site ( uses In addition to the ‘Job Mobility Portal’, the EURES skip logic based on users’ information, so that online service is underpinned by a network of more than applicants have to answer fewer questions than 700 advisers who maintain regular contact with those using making paper applications. The site also jobseekers and employers across Europe. EURES checks answers before submission, so applications advisers also offer certain European cross-border are less likely to face rejection as a result of missing employment services, offering problem solving, or conflicting information. Sweden’s Student Aid advice and information on a range of problems site, Webbsvar, offers various customer-focussed related to cross-border commuting, which are also attributes, including status updates that show the covered online. progress of requests, the value of existing student loans and when payments are due ( EURES is extraordinarily extensive: on 13/02/2008 there were 1,208,373 job vacancies, 310,110 CVs Technology has also delivered direct user outcomes and 13,455 employers registered on the site: http:// in employment services. Examples include the UK’s Internet Job Bank, available through two portals (Jobcentre Plus - http://www.jobcentreplus. and Improving Services for Business uk) and the Swedish Public Employment Service ( Yet another New technologies have simplified transactions example is an Austrian government portal that between government and business customers, long offers basic citizenship information on living and a source of frustration and complaint, particularly working in the country ( on the part of small business proprietors. The Content.Node/HELP-FC.html). UK’s Business Link service is a self-help portal for small and medium businesses, linking to all relevant Customer Service in the Delivery of Public Services: International Experience