Public services, especially public safety and law enforcement agencies, have always provided a lifeline to the public. In the COVID-19 crisis, that role has been amplified even more. During the pandemic, people relied on public service agencies like never before, asking new questions, and seeking support and guidance. This has increased demand on agencies and their ability to respond to enquiries significantly.  

Public safety and law enforcement agencies have traditionally been regarded as the “service of last resort”. People turn to them for support and to resolve their questions when they’re in acute need or unsure who else to go to. On top of this, is the added challenge of rising public expectations of service. These are driven by an increasingly digital and fast-paced world in which many private sector organizations are enabling ever more sophisticated customer interactions.

One example is the expectation to engage with a service or an organization at any time, across multiple devices, channels and touchpoints. People also increasingly expect more personalized and customised experiences, which understand their needs and history regardless of how they engage and interact. Most importantly, citizens expect a concrete outcome from their engagement—whether they are ordering a product, seeking support or registering an issue.

Technology answers the call

So, how can public safety agencies continue to meet the evolving needs of the public? Most already know that the digital technologies that are driving this shift in public expectation also hold the answer. But many organizations are struggling with the complexity of modernizing their operations and unlocking the full value of their technology investments.

One key aspect of the answer is to transform the citizen experience by integrating people, process and data, using tools such as artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to help deliver deeper insights. Doing this requires a new operating model that blends both human and machine and plays to the strengths of each.

To help with this, Accenture has developed an approach called Advanced Customer Engagement (ACE+).  ACE+ can be tailored to the needs of different organizations, helping them create new citizen experience journeys which are both simpler and deliver outcomes faster. ACE+ is designed to put data and citizen insight at the center, helping support both the citizen and service provider with interactions. 

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The secret to its success is that by creating a human+machine culture it offers the best of both worlds. What’s more, it gives staff the confidence to work alongside technology, as well as elevating their role so that they can be most effective when the human touch is required. Underpinning ACE+ is an intelligence architecture, built from interfacing technologies and platforms which integrate data and maximize the benefits of the cloud. The results? An improved citizen experience, increased levels of staff satisfaction and more cost-effective operations.

ACE+ has already helped many public service organizations to reimagine the citizen experience. As the pandemic prompted a surge in unemployment insurance claims, in the US the Texas Workforce Commission worked with Accenture to deploy an AI-powered virtual assistant to handle the surge in demand. And when millions of citizens turned to the Tennessee Department of Human Services for COVID-19-related assistance, we helped them scale up their contact centre response rapidly and cost-effectively. 

Public safety agencies can embrace these same capabilities to meet citizens’ changing needs at greater speed and scale, as well as reduced cost. One of the biggest opportunities lies in transforming the contact center into a more intelligent capability, empowered to deliver more responsive services to the public.

Flipping the script

Public safety contact centers have always been a source of information, with the public calling in to report incidents and seek assistance. Now, with AI and machine learning, public safety agencies can respond to these requests more efficiently and through different channels. They can also capture, analyze and understand information about the nature and patterns of incidents and threats in new ways. And they can harness these insights to drive targeted, timely outreach and interventions to help protect the communities they serve. All this transforms the contact center into a hub for proactive public engagement and support.

For example, if there’s an increase in reports of certain incidents coming from a particular community, an emerging pattern of crimes, traffic incidents or overcrowding, these can be used to help understand the problem and provide a suitable, fast response.  Social contact channels provide a further source of data points to understand and forecast threat, risk and harm. Community engagement and social listening can be used to measure perception of crime and inform local and regional policing priorities. Social channels themselves are also a direct route to proactively counter mis- and dis-information, particularly those threats which take advantage of social media channels.

West Midlands Police (WMP) worked with Accenture to develop a new digital channel where citizens can quickly resolve queries through a unique, intuitive approach to helping them “understand their options” and get customized advice based on their selection. Through the new online channel, citizens can report incidents, and provide digital witness statements, including supporting evidence. Once their digital case file is assigned to an officer, citizens can track its progress, get updates, and interact with the officer in charge as needed. This enables the public to self-serve where appropriate, freeing-up contact center staff to focus on more urgent and complex requests.

Engaging in a whole new way

Beyond improving efficiency and reducing cost to serve, the intelligent contact center creates a new model for citizen-centred engagement, one that enables public safety organizations to interact with members of the public in a more personal and meaningful way. And as citizen expectations continue to evolve, embracing new ways to deliver better service and outcomes will be vital to building the confidence and trust in public safety that is needed now more than ever.

Get in touch if you’d like to find out more about how we can help create a hub for proactive public engagement and support.

 

This content is provided for general information purposes and is not intended to be used in place of consultation with our professional advisors. This document refers to marks owned by third parties. All such third-party marks are the property of their respective owners. No sponsorship, endorsement or approval of this content by the owners of such marks is intended, expressed or implied.

James Slessor

Managing Director – Consulting, Public Safety Lead

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