Back in March I wrote about the need to think beyond digital services when it comes to digital transformation and the role of communications in achieving this. Real transformation needs a change in mind set, not just a change in service delivery. That is why I found myself at the GCS Southwest ‘Changing Mindsets’ Conference talking about the role of communications in a digital world.
The Changing Mindsets Conference challenged the audience, made up of comms professionals from across the public sector in the South West, to think about perceptions and how their roles needed to change to keep up with the society we serve.
As part of my session I shared DVLA’s digital communications timeline, highlighting three points in particular. It started with the first ever chief executive’s blog back in September 2012. Why was this a significant milestone for me? Well it was the first time we gave DVLA staff the opportunity not just to comment digitally on a chief executive’s message, but also to do so anonymously. Was that first blog post a success? Well it certainly showed that the staff at DVLA wanted a voice. It showed that they wanted to express their concerns, complaints and frustrations and that they were keen to do so digitally and anonymously. What was more interesting was that over the course of a few weeks the posts settled down, with self moderation happening and less ‘off topic’ comments. A digital channel was giving DVLA staff a voice and in doing so got senior managers listening.
The second point was September 2013 when we opened up social media access to all staff on work PCs. This really was a massive milestone. We were rightly trusting our staff to use social media responsibly and giving them access to the wealth of information about how we communicate with our customers and also information that can help them do their jobs. Did the business grind to a halt? No. In fact there were no major issues and haven’t been since. But we have ended up with new ways to communicate with our staff including videos, video blogs and internal web chats. The latter being a really good way to get answers to questions staff themselves are asking.
Finally, and most recently, was 2 April 2014 when our contact centre took responsibility for answering Twitter queries from our customers. Interacting with our customers where they are telling us they are rather than us telling them where they have to be. Initial feedback from this has been really positive with a recent tweet saying ‘The @DVLAgovuk Twitter team are my first port of call if I have any issues from now. Their service is spot on. #motorhappy’.
We still have a long way to go, but our default position is now to think about how digital can support our communications objectives, both internal and external. Response from the conference audience was that this is exactly where they were also going or needed to go. So will communications be leading the digital transformation of public services? If ‘Changing Mindsets’ was anything to go by, we certainly will.