Lessons from the UK: Channel Shift in the Public Sector


As budgets continue to shrink and expectations continue to rise, government has to explore different ways to effectively drive their mission. Shifting to digital channels of engagement with citizens is one way to save money and increase efficiency. But achieving channel shift is challenging with outdated tools.

Fortunately, our friends across the pond have been achieving more with less for a while now. During the 2018 Granicus National Summit, we brought together Dave Worsell, Director of Granicus Europe, and Brett Husbands, CEO of Firmstep, to discuss the challenges and successes they’ve seen with digital channel shift during a breakout session.

The key to channel shift is doing more with less. “What we aim to do is get the transaction cost down as low as possible while providing as much as we can to citizens,” Husbands explained. This means finding channels that work for your audience, while remaining flexible to evolving digital communications.

Husbands went on to explain that channel shift also must be a team effort in order to be most effective. He gave the example of the Milton Keynes Council and said, “The key part of their success was that they brought together their customer service, IT and communications teams and worked through the whole channel shift process.” This allowed them to keep messaging consistent and use data to understand what citizens want and to implement that to improve services.

So how can you and your team become communications superstars like the Milton Keynes Council? Worsell gave 10 quick tips you can start adopting today:

  • Think like a commercial marketer. You’re selling behavioral change at the end of the day, so keep asking yourself “why” and “so what?” when developing your comms strategy.
  • Transform the citizen experience. This starts with defining outcomes, then expanding reach, choosing the right channel to reach your audience, choosing the right content for your audience and finally driving outcomes.
  • Align with key government initiatives. Know your objectives, audience and strategy, and then you can implement that strategy and evaluate it.
  • Know your audience. Understand who you need to engage and on what channels.
  • Put a value on your contribution. Start with identifying key performance indicators and baselines then measure and evaluate impact to refine your strategy.
  • Get a seat at the top table. Make sure every program plan has a communications and engagement plan with key stakeholders present from the beginning.
  • Reduce demand by being productive. Use digital communications to free up resources, intervene early on and signpost to online support.
  • Generate more income. Promote your revenue generating services to a larger audience and consider easy lifts like pay-per-click advertising.
  • Build trust and your reputation. Communicate good and bad news to improve citizens’ understanding of the pressures you face and generate interest in the positives.

Improve customer satisfaction. Understand that citizen expectations are rising and government must modernize in order to meet them.

Worsell concluded, “If you can do all of that, you can decrease costs and increase citizen satisfaction, ultimately helping achieve your outcomes.” For more information on how you can shift channels to meet citizen need, review the entire presentation from the session and contact us here.

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