In a recent conversation with a chief technology officer, he asserted all digital technology changes in his organisation were being led by IT and not by marketing. It made me wonder: How long a marketing function like this could survive?
The Queensland Building and Construction Commission (QBCC) has undergone a significant digital transformation as part of efforts to shift from regulatory watchdog to customer-centric services provider.
Formed in December 2013, the QBCC sprung out of the former Building Services Authority and a parliamentary enquiry to bring into play a new board, a new commissioner and a revamp and restructure led by a customer service focus.
QBCC’s executive director of customer service, Bruce McGregor, said digital was quickly recognised as a core part of a transformative customer service strategy.
“Customer service was to be at the forefront, as opposed to previously, when the commission was more of a regulator and enforcer,” he told CMO. “So when we formed, it was very much about making sure we had customer service top of mind. The regulatory aspect is still very relevant, but the way we go about doing that would be completely different to how we had done it previously.”
Challenge: Scrapping old habits to become customer-centric
In 2014, McGregor said the team at QBCC began looking at what customer service elements to focus on, and decided to start with the commission’s internal customers.
“We wanted to focus on the internal culture of the organisation,” he explained. “We believed that if we could make it more simple and easier for our staff to come to work and do their job, then in turn we would do better job when it came to serving all our external customers.”
McGregor said this meant taking a good hard look at the organisation internally, analysing the working culture and finding ways to make it easier for everyone.
“Like most government organisations, the challenge around customer service is that expectations from the public are generally far greater than what is being delivered to them,” he said. “What we wanted to do was provide that extra level of delivery to meet our customer needs.”
McGregor noted QBCC customers interact on digital channels three times more than traditional channels.
“Apart from culture, we needed to adopt a strong customer service proposition that meets the expectations of customers out there,” he continued. “Like most organisations, the challenge was to play catch up with the digital disruption that has been and gone.”
The solution: Implementing the technology for enablement
As part of its digital journey, QBCC opted to implement Salesforce’s cloud-based CRM platform.
“We decided to implement the CRM that was the easiest to enable our service and digital transformation,” McGregor said. “But digital transformation was just a part of it. We wanted to get a single view of the customer across all our channels and offer frontline staff an easier way to interact with customers.”
Previously, the commission had multiple legacy systems with customer details in different areas.
“It was difficult for my frontline staff to adequately service a customer if they wanted to find out where their case was, or make an enquiry - or for us to check their history when they had dealt with a Commission before,” he said. “The Salesforce platform has enabled that for us in many aspects.”
However, McGregor admitted QBCC made the common mistake of trying to take existing processes and putting them onto new technology.
“While we certainly knew and believed Salesforce could enable us to deliver a better customer outcome, we actually stopped our project in early 2015 and paused,” he said. “We needed to go back and engage with customers directly, and design new processes that were relevant to the customer, then tackle the technology.
“From the outset, we were technology led, but then we decided to go back and reset the program to become more customer-led. And that was a big insight for us, because we had budgets approved, we’d committed to the timeline, but we knew we needed to shift our game and focus first on the service experience.
“That’s why this year, while we’ve focused on technology, it’s also been about mapping and co-designing the new services directly with customers.”
Key outcomes: More strategic co-creation with customers
McGregor said the first step to achieving co-creation with customers was to train staff in a customer design methodology. The commission’s customer design officers have also conducted hundreds of hours of interviews to develop deeper insights.
“That outcome has been we delivering new services out there that have been designed with our customers both internally and externally,” he said.
QBCC staff have been using Salesforce more proactively since the beginning of November and McGregor said one-third third of the business has moved onto the new cloud-based technology platform.
“We still have some legacy systems and we’re still on our transformation journey, we’re managing a Salesforce experience and co-designing to make the internal and external customer service a lot easier,” he added.
The QBCC takes state and national awards for achievement in service excellence at the Australian Service Excellent Awards
McGregor said QBCC has seen a significant channel shift to digital, with volumes of transactions typically processed through the contact centre now processed online.
In November, QBCC was also awarded the 2015 National Winner and 2015 Queensland Winner for achievement in service excellence for a state or federal government agency at the prestigious Australian Service Excellence Awards.
Hosted by the Customer Service Institute of Australia, the awards recognise the ingenuity of outstanding customer service-driven organisations.
“That was external validation in terms of our process and design that has worked really well,” McGregor added.