How the public sector can leverage technologies to improve customer experience

While public sector organisations recognise the importance of CX, some areas are lagging. More efficient use of technology going into the future would help to reduce the strain on services, while also better meeting customer needs

Posted 17 January 2022 by Christine Horton

Over the course of the pandemic, public sector organisations delivered essential services and support to citizens in uncertain times. However, with this increased reliance, operations have been stretched, evident by backlogs in the NHS, making it difficult for all customer concerns to be met with adequate solutions.

The dramatic, rapid changes brought about during the pandemic, taking place against a backdrop of steady technological advancements, have significantly reshaped the way customers interact with public sector organisations. We’ve seen contact routes such as video calls become common practice and an ever-growing desire amongst customers for human connection.

Our Experience as a Service 2021 survey explores the changing customer service patterns and demands in the public sector – both retrospectively over the last year and looking ahead to a post-COVID world. Our findings show that, while public sector organisations clearly recognise the importance of customer service, there are some areas that appear to be lagging. More efficient use of technology would help to reduce the strain on services, whilst also better meeting customer needs.

With this in mind, here are four technologies the public sector can leverage to improve customer service experiences.

Omnichannel service

Our findings show that virtually all contact channels saw an increase in use over the last year which, given the need for and pressures on services, is hardly surprising. However, it is noteworthy that increases were recorded across many different channels – from phone, email and SMS to video calls, to chatbots and website interactions. And the majority of organisations said customer needs were met across this spread of channels – with 61 percent claiming their customers felt heard and understood. This highlights the importance of remaining open to using multiple communication channels – a range of digital channels and human agents allows customers to use a channel that’s appropriate to their needs and get help when and where it’s needed.

Smarter use of data

An area where further progress could be made lies in how organisations utilise various types of data to improve customer service experience. Effective use of customer data allows organisations to build customer profiles and anticipate future needs. While the vast majority of respondents (upwards of 80 percent) agreed that their current processes and platforms allowed them to understand their customers’ needs, intents and preferences, the majority of organisations are only able to do this to some degree. While 59 percent of respondents claimed their organisation uses historic data to improve customer experience, only 33 percent and 25 percent respectively responded similarly for behavioural data and third-party data. Better use of data would also go a long way to allowing for more empathetic interactions with customers – key for establishing rapport and helping customers make optimal decisions in a timely manner.


Reliance on public sector services means the industry’s contact centres have seen a huge demand during the pandemic, something which is likely to continue. Public sector contact services have generally been resilient during this time; however, our findings show that adequate infrastructure is not in place to deal with this degree of demand. A sizable minority (34 percent), reported issues with the ability to scale their contact centre up or down over the last year – which is potentially linked to the lack of cloud-based solutions (only 38 percent of respondents said their organisation currently uses cloud-based contact centre platform).  Implementing cloud technology would allow public sector organisations to scale up or down where appropriate – an important consideration if you consider how key scalability has been for many organisations over the last 18 months.

AI and automation

While the public sector is beginning to use automation technology more and starting to explore the potential of AI, the mixed results from the survey show that the possibilities of these tools are yet to be fully integrated into the public sector’s customer experience strategies. While we see quite promising results in some areas – e.g., 51 percent say their organisation uses interactive voice response (IVR) to support customer service – our report reveals that a significant proportion (over a third) of public sector organisations currently don’t make use of automated systems to support customer service. While human agents allow for a more expansive range of responses than is possible with IVR, well supported IVR systems have been proven to raise levels of customer satisfaction by making requests easier to deal with. Equally, while we see overall growth in the use of digital automation including chatbots, much of the public sector does not know or understand how their organisation uses them.

While public sector organisations have shown effective use of multiple communications channels for customers during the pandemic and beyond, it’s clear there’s progress to be made when it comes to harnessing a number of technologies to improve customer experience. From smarter use of customer data, to embracing cloud technology, AI and automation, public sector organisations would do well to gain further knowledge of the possibilities of these tools and integrate them as a fundamental part of their CX suite.

Helen Briggs is senior vice president, Genesys