Customer service for public services in a digital age: part one

hpDigital by Default has produced a two part interview with Martin Hill-Wilson, a global authority on social customer service, the founder of Brainfood Consulting and co-author of ‘Delivering Effective Social Customer Service’.

In the run up to Agilisys‘Customer Service for Public Services in a Digital Age’ event, we speak to Martin in a two part interview. In this first interview he discusses digital trends and future digital challenges within the public sector.


What’s your background and experience in customer service?

I’ve been in customer service since the 1980s when I was involved with installing and running the first wave of contact centres with Merchants, a customer management outsourcing solution provider. I have delivered many customer centric, employee training and consulting assignments over the 15 years that followed, eventually ending up as the CEO of their BPO and consulting business. In a move away from the corporate world, I decided to set up my own business: Brainfood Consulting. I position myself as a customer engagement and ‘beyond-silo’ business strategist as well as an author, international keynote speaker and chair.


Can you tell us more about Brainfood Consulting?

Brainfood Consulting delivers a range of master classes and interventions. Our current topics include seeding empowered service cultures; designing an intelligent omni-channel ecosystem; using intelligent assistance and bots for digital engagement; reinventing service for social and mobile consumers. These elements are targeted at delivering disruptive service innovation.


What do you see as the most significant technological trends over the coming years that might have an impact on the public sector and the way in which it provides customer service? 

The speed at which UK consumers have adopted social, mobile and digital lifestyles has left all sectors in a permanent state of catch up. Consumers demand high, real-time expectations: 24/7 service, minimal effort, ease of access, autonomy with a human touch.

The dawn of a cognitive era is upon us. Alexa, Amelia and other AI bots will elevate our expectations even further. At the very least they offer multi-modal assistance and the ability to retrieve and recite answers in a conversational style. At best they are new personal assistants that learn and develop to become more useful over time.


What are the main challenges the public sector needs to face in order to embrace the change which is coming? (e.g. technology, data, culture, data protection, trust)

The public sector needs to explore new and innovative ways of engaging their customers through technology. The internal challenges include developing an advanced knowledge of management capabilities, user experience skills, conversational design skills and agile deployment. This will provide fast and cost effective outcomes.

Culturally the shift will require a strong change management approach and facilitation to re-sculpt the workforce.

Customer data security protection is fundamental to the implementation of digital systems. In an unsecured world of data breaches and downstream fraud, effective security must be invested in. To be perceived as a trusted guardian and user of personal data, the public sector must present a fully conceived and communicated data policy to its customers.


Martin will be sharing knowledge, insight and discussing disruptive topics in the customer service sphere at the event on Wednesday 16th November at 9:15am on 5th Floor of One Hammersmith Broadway. Email to receive further information and to book a place.

To find out more about how Agilisys can help you transform service to enhance customer experience, click here.

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