Today, citizens and entrepreneurs across the world increasingly expect government agencies to provide them with convenient, easy to use digital services. And forward-looking government employment services are stepping up to deliver these, by innovating to transform and integrate the digital services they offer to customers.
While each national employment service takes a slightly different approach, the core goal in every case is to use digital to elevate personalisation and service delivery for users to a whole new level. In my view, the agencies that are doing this most successfully are developing online services that share a number of characteristics.
So, what do innovative labour agencies’ have in common? One shared characteristic is that they offer citizens an individualised and easy to use digital environment – one that makes it as quick and convenient as possible for customers to get access to the services they’re looking for.
Another common trait is creating a digital environment that bundles services together in logical, user-focused groupings. This enables an agency to make its digital presence much simpler to navigate, and make it even easier by guiding customers through the relevant processes, and clarifying the responses to specific questions through a choice of personal contact, telephone or online chat.
A final shared characteristic is that the digital presence works as a one-stop shop, making all services for citizens, enterprises and other government and private institutions available in one place. This is supported by having a uniform design that enables users to generate reports and find answers on any topic in a consistent, flexible way.
So, how are employment agencies achieving these outcomes? The answer lies in applying two key design principles:
- User-centric design: Always put the customer at the centre – a mindset that is now gaining ground among government agencies around the world. An effective way of applying this approach is to develop a range of “personas” representing typical customer groups, and then design respective “customer journeys” that they’ll follow in the new online environment.
- Rapid prototyping: This means developing new experiences at high speed and low cost by iterating and fine-tuning them at pace to meet users’ needs ever more closely. The most forward-thinking agencies are turbocharging their prototyping by creating “open innovation labs”, in which their employees work closely with external experts and customer groups to constantly test and review the design and user experience.
A handful of government labour agencies are doing all these things to achieve ground-breaking results. One that we’ve worked with recently is the German Labour Agency (BA), whose previous online presence included 95 digital services offerings – creating a degree of complexity that made it difficult for citizens to find and access the services they were looking for. BA’s new digital presence, developed with Accenture’s help, is widely recognised as a resounding success – with more than 80% of users questioned in a customer survey saying they liked it.
In addition to user-centric design and rapid prototyping, another vital enabler for BA’s new digital presence was detailed knowledge of different customers’ usage and expectations of digital communications. These insights – developed by Accenture – enabled BA and Accenture to visualise the service concepts in a tangible and emotionally engaging way. Speed was a further factor, with rapid visualisation enabling the development of a clickable prototype within just six weeks.
The message is clear. Enabled by leading-edge design principles, the next generation of governments’ online labour services is now emerging. And we’re helping the leaders create the future and move towards the Era of Empowerment. To find out what Era of Empowerment means for employment services read our POV.