E-government plans need CRM focus

A report from analyst Hewson Group has warned that electronic services need to be more customer focused, and that too much emphasis on sexy front ends is in danger of raising unrealistic expectations.

Improving other interaction channels will have more impact on customer perceptions in the short term, it argued, bearing in mind the relatively low levels of internet access in the UK.

In the last quarter of 2001 the number of people who had used the internet in the previous six months reached 28.2 million, representing almost half of the UK population, according to figures from internet analyst Jupiter MMXI.

Wendy Hewson, head of end user research at Hewson Group, explained that the public sector needed to collaborate more closely with the private sector, and that pressure to do things quickly was causing a lot of wastage in technology procurement.

‘A lot of local authorities have been quite savvy and started looking at the internet as part of a trend to improve services and rationalise processes, but if you’re looking to rapidly and visibly transform public services, CRM has an awful lot to offer,’ she said.

‘Although the public sector understands what people want, delivering and aligning organisational capability is where it falls down,’ added Hewson. ‘The citizen doesn’t mind who provides the service but they want it to be done well and at a good price.’

Individual government departments are still focusing too much on their own issues rather than tackling the overall objectives of e-government, leading to islands of operation across the public sector, according to Hewson.

‘The public sector needs to go through a process of aligning these islands by looking towards the private sector as a good example,’ she said. ‘The best private sector companies have realigned their processes from both a customer and cost perspective and that’s the biggest challenge facing the public sector.’

Report co-author Rhion Jones stated: “There is a widespread consensus that public services in the western democracies are in need of improvement, but the introduction of internet-enabled or internet-‘architected’ solutions of themselves will only achieve so much.

‘To realise the ambitions of the prime minister to transform public services and elevate them close to the top of the international league table requires a more fundamental approach.’

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