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How AI is helping to rethink citizen services

AI helps governments get work done through full automation

Everyone knows what it’s like to deal with a government contact center: listening to recorded messages and being pushed from pillar to post without any resolution. Today, people expect better from their government agencies, but governments and public sector bodies must balance shrinking budgets with these rising expectations. Transforming services without increasing resources means working smarter and exploiting new digital technologies, especially artificial intelligence (AI), to create a much better citizen experience.

For the first time this year, government CIOs put AI at the top of their list of ‘game-changing’ technologies in a Gartner survey. AI provides the potential to gain a single view of the citizen and their interactions to drive citizen engagement and improve business administration, simply, efficiently and, more importantly, cost-effectively.

Citizens are demanding AI-driven experiences

If my bank can do it, why can’t my local authority? It’s not an unreasonable question, but it is one that citizens are asking. According to Accenture, 85% of citizens expect government digital services to be equal to or better than those they receive from commercial organizations. The firm also found that the more exposure to user-friendly AI solutions a person has in their daily life, the greater the expectation for government to do the same.

Governments worldwide have invested heavily in digital services, but so far results have fallen short of expectations. For example, recent research found that 22% of UK citizens regularly use digital government services, and over half of respondents would increase their use of government services if they could access them all from a single online portal. Clearly, efficiency and ease-of-use are still barriers to the adoption of digital citizen services.

But government organizations are beginning to deliver AI-powered interfaces for citizen service delivery that brings together information from disparate systems – including legacy systems – and automates simple tasks. This is freeing staff to concentrate on the higher value, decision-based elements of customer interfaces as well as enabling the development of complete self-service capabilities for citizens.

Accelerating and improving service delivery

By 2025, as much as 95% of all customer interactions will be powered by AI according to some estimates. This doesn’t mean that AI will provide everything to deliver a completely digital experience where citizens can’t ‘spot the bot’. Instead, it means AI will augment the work of humans to ensure that they are empowered with the right information at the right time. It means letting AI automate dull and repetitive tasks to give staff time to provide better citizen services.

It’s this combination of human and AI that offers the greatest benefit of citizen service delivery. For example, a government employee can have hundreds of pages of documentation to assemble and review to determine the eligibility of a benefit application. These tasks are often manual, time-intensive and prone to error. AI automates a great part of this information collation and processing, enabling the staff member to concentrate on making the final decision. The adjudication process is accelerated and the quality of decisions improve. It enables the organization to avoid or remove the backlogs that lead to poor citizen services.

AI technologies can transform the contact center. The clunky IVR systems can be replaced with intuitive AI-powered systems that can either resolve the case quickly, or direct to the appropriate agent and provide them with the information they need to properly serve the citizen.

Elaine Beeman, Senior Managing Director of Federal Services at Accenture, notes: “One area ripe for change is the whole call center experience. It is going to be totally streamlined by AI in the coming years, with voice recognition and natural language processing enabling interactions that feel more intuitive and seamless. … And these are not futuristic solutions but ones that can be implemented now with the dual benefit of improving customer satisfaction and reducing cost.”

From automation to personalization

While automaton offers a powerful way to reduce costs and improve service delivery, the power of AI will lie in the ability to maximize the value of the reams of citizen data gained through the interactions that government agencies have everyday.

AI and analytics can make governments more effective and more intelligent. Using AI to become data-driven can radically transform almost every aspect of operations from cutting the costs of case handling to reducing fraud to identifying criminals through facial recognition.

However, its key benefit will be the ability to personalize citizen-centric programs. Blending data from interaction with other back-end systems and social sentiment lets governments build an accurate profile of each citizen–their wants, needs and preferences–and tailor both service development and delivery to their individual requirements.

Want to know more about how AI is transforming government? Read my new white paper to learn new ways global governments are leveraging this technology, and how your organization can, too.

Brian Chidester

Brian Chidester is the Head of Worldwide Industry Strategy for Public Sector at OpenText and the host of "The Government Huddle with Brian Chidester" podcast from Government Marketing University. He is responsible for growing OpenText’s Public Sector practice while also ensuring the success of our public sector customers. Formerly, Brian served as the Industry Marketing Lead for Public Sector at Appian. He also has held product marketing roles with Monster Worldwide, Arrow ECS and IHS Markit, where he was awarded Best in Show - Lead Generation at the 2014 MarketingSherpa Email Awards. Mr. Chidester holds a B.S. in Communications Studies from Liberty University, is a Board Member for the University of South Florida - Muma College of Business, and is an Advisor to the G20 Global Smart Cities Alliance at the World Economic Forum.

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