Customer – not back office – first

The greatest flaw in the design of all of the citizen solutions in the public sector is that they were fundamentally designed to surface specific back office data for a given department to the web. The net result of this is that within a single Council, a citizen might have a separate account for Council Tax, one for Housing, and one for Social Care.

This just doesn’t make sense to the citizen who sees the Council as a distinct entity rather than the sum of many distinct silos. Some councils have ameliorated this by providing a single sign on with integration to all of the separate software supplier’s authentication mechanisms, which is great. But it is solving a problem, which shouldn’t have existed in the first place and it simply patching up poor architectural design.


While we were doing R&D, it was apparent that all current citizen accounts were effectively the same. They basically mirrored the functions and features of the back office application for which they surfaced information from. This approach means that citizens need to actually learn the intricacies of the service and the order of buttons to press, which does not naturally lend itself to a great customer experience.

So, to illustrate the difference in approach, we have looked at what the most common questions are that are asked for each department. Therefore instead of having to learn how the back office works, we’ve instead provided a UI based upon the most common questions actually asked every day of the customer services team instead. The key being that the answers for these frequently asked questions are personalised to the citizen’s circumstances.

“They way I envisioned our smart FAQs is that we would answer the questions the citizen has before they ask them”John McMahon - Product Director - IEG4

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