Public sector urged to ensure access to services during economic crisis

Public sector investment in citizen services during Covid must continue in the face of a recession, says HGS

Posted 5 October 2022 by Christine Horton

The public sector must put responsiveness at the heart of their strategy to ensure citizens have access to the support they need during the current cost of living crisis.

That’s according to HGS, a specialist in customer experience optimisation in contact centres. It argues that responsiveness and communication will be more important than ever as individuals and businesses face challenges that will influence their interactions with public authorities.

“With the expected increase in individual and household vulnerability public sector departments must continue to invest as they did during the Covid-19 pandemic or risk leaving large numbers of the population at risk,” it said.

“During the pandemic the government demonstrated its ability to quickly focus, adapt and invest in services to respond proactively to the needs of its citizens,” said Graham Brown, chief revenue officer at HGS UK. “It demonstrated ‘the art of the possible’ and what can be achieved when all government departments work together to protect the health and wellbeing of its citizens.

“Whilst we’re through the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic, we now face the cost of living crisis. Leaders must reflect on what worked (and what didn’t) during the pandemic for both citizens and public sector employees and use this to inform decisions for their future engagement strategies such as the need for flexibility, agility, and resilience.”

It is expected that the volume of inbound queries will increase for many central and local government departments, particularly those that handle financial matters such as benefits, social care and tax. Many of the interactions will be time sensitive and the support centres will also need the capacity and expertise to handle individual needs and concerns.

“Responsiveness is key and will be the benchmark for building trust, which is critical when handling vulnerable customers,” said Brown. “People will have less money in their pockets and may also be experiencing well-being issues as a result, so it is important that their needs are addressed in a timely and respectful manner. Now is a time to invest in service and not look at ways in which cost can be removed.”