Textocracy presents at the Public Sector Customer Services Forum Mobile Citizens event, Birmingham, 23 February 2016

We had the privilege of speaking at the Mobile Citizens channelshift event in Birmingham yesterday, organised by Nick Hill of the Public Sector Customer Services Forum.

Attendees were from a range of councils, with roles like digital transformation specialist, customer services and strategy manager, and business and systems change analyst.

No matter how different our job titles might have been, we were all there for the same reason: to explore how we can use digital channels for better access and information for the people we serve.

There were a range of views on this, and it was clear there is not a one size fits all solution. Online solutions can be great, but not everyone has access. Did you know that there are 10 million adults who aren’t online in the UK, and that most of these are from lower socioeconomic groups? We need to be sure that our solutions don’t reinforce inequalities in our communities. But online solutions are necessary, and as more people get online, they really open up choice and empower people to have better access to what they need.

We also explored how literacy can be a barrier to digital channels as well as other current engagement methods, like surveys and questionnaires. Methods we can offer that means that people can privately use their own text ability, even if it is wrought with spelling and grammar mistakes, gives them a voice they may otherwise not feel confident or welcome to use.

Regardless of our views on which sorts of digital channels were best, we were all in agreement that there is much unleashed potential in current technology, and that it is just waiting to be explored and exploited. We know that in the end these tools could even save our organisations’ money and provide a more efficient service. We just need to get them up and running!