From tweets about bin collections to texts about Council Tax, your citizens are more interactive than ever.
Your organisation has met this challenge by introducing even more ways citizens can get in touch, introducing functionality like web chat and devoting customer service assistants to responding to queries on social media. You’ve invested in systems to manage their data, and systems to manage vital council information. But there’s a problem: you’ve got multiple siloes that don’t talk to each other. When a citizen contacts you, your customer service team have to manually look up their queries in a variety of proprietary data sources such as CRM, WFM and scheduling. This creates a drain on time and resources, impatient citizens and much potential for human errors and duplication.
Effective integration between systems could enable you to deal with citizens appropriately, offer them service rapidly, or in some cases, automatically. However, integrating communications and information systems is a big worry for many organisations. The mistake of trying to converge all information into one big database instantly is often made. All too often, this turns out to be a disaster.
1. Date first.
Forget the big bang, then - integration should be taken slowly and steadily. Leveraging your existing systems is not only cost-effective, but a much safer method to ensure your integration runs smoothly. The most effective integrations start small, and gradually incorporate more elements as and when everybody is ready.
2. Fix any issues before you commit further.
Experience is everything. Choose one aspect of your organisation to integrate first. Whether it’s billing or Environmental Services, rolling out new features to a select group of customers or launching a brand new system, you need to check out your intended mechanism and make sure it works for you. You should ensure your integration links are scalable, reliable and fit to cope with your organisation’s needs. A staged rollout, with the capability to roll back quickly should a tactical retreat prove necessary, will allow you to fix any issues before you extend the project to the rest of your estate. This way a technical challenge is prevented from becoming a public relations disaster.
3. Don’t be trapped – leave room for your future needs.
Effective communications integration is always flexible. Incorporate your current systems into your integration plan, as well as any scheduled future developments. In the fast-paced world of technology, you need to recognise that any of these elements – existing or planned – may prove not be permanent and you may need to switch to new systems that you don’t even know about yet. Ensure your integration provider leaves the path open to whatever the future might bring, using open standards wherever possible.
By taking these basic principles into account, you will be in a good position to ensure seamless integration, for a happy and lasting union between communications and data.