Overcoming the barriers to delivering an excellent citizen experience – Interview with Ryan Hollenbeck and David Moody


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Motherwell Civic Centre, Lanarkshire

Today’s interview is with Ryan Hollenbeck and David Moody from Verint Systems, a global technology firm that provides Actionable Intelligence® solutions, to both public and private sector organisations, with a focus on customer engagement optimization, security intelligence, and fraud, risk and compliance. David and Ryan join me today to talk about citizen experience, overcoming barriers to implementing successful digital strategies, particularly in the government and public sector arena and what government and public sector organisations could be doing better.

This interview follows on from my recent interview – Heroes and the craft of customer support – Interview with Nick Francis – and is number 232 in the series of interviews with authors and business leaders that are doing great things, providing valuable insights, helping businesses innovate and delivering great service and experience to both their customers and their employees.

Highlights from my conversation with Ryan and David:

  • Verint have just released a new report called Overcoming the Barriers to Successful Digital First Strategies: A Government and Public Sector Guide.
  • The resistance to taking on new digital initiatives and strategies in the government and public sector (G&PS) is falling from what is was five years ago.
  • The main driver of the resistance was the belief that large numbers of their ‘customers’ didn’t want to use digital.
  • However, that is now changing and many G&PS organisations are embracing digital strategies.
  • But, no one is close to achieving the sort of digital experience that a customer would receive from a leading online retailer.
  • That is the challenge and G&PS officials are having to deal with the fact that they have to live up to expectations that are set in the B2C domain.
  • There are a number of barriers to the wider adoption of digital strategies in this sector.
  • One barrier, which is particularly acute in the UK, is budget.
  • Another is Digital Maturity, which David wrote a blog about: Four Steps to Digital Nirvana.
  • Many organisations have adopted a “Field of Dreams” approach where “If you build it, they will come”. However, more often than not this does not work as there is a whole people, process and transformation piece that needs to happen if they are to achieve the savings that they desire and deliver the experience that their citizens want.
  • The slow rate of adoption of digital in many G&PS organisations can also be put down to digital falling down the prioritisation list.
  • This is combined with the fact that many G&PS organisations have a lot of inertia to combat. Many of the processes and their ways of doing things have not changed very much in the last 50 years.
  • Recent terrorist attacks in Manchester and London and the Grenfell Tower fire tragedy in London shine a sharp lens on the capability of G&PS organisations to respond quickly, efficiently and effectively to events.
  • The key to responding well though is planning and many G&PS organisations are not doing enough off this to ‘get out in front’ of potential and bad scenarios.
  • The UK could learn a lot from the N. American experience where they include disaster planning as routine part of their operational planning.
  • One the challenges for G&PS organisations in the UK is how much do they do and spend on something that may or may not happen. However, the benefit will be in asking the question and being more proactive in their thinking.
  • David cites an example of a city in the US, a Verint client, and how they responded after a bridge collapsed 8/9 years ago. They were equipped to effectively deal with such an incident only because they were proactively thinking about and preparing for situations like that and what they needed (people, process and technology) to be in place to be able to effectively deal with the situation.
  • Whilst the city in question does have a lot of snow every year and they are prepared for that they could not have envisaged a bridge collapsing. But, they were prepared for unforeseen situations because they had planned for it.
  • We only understand how good our service is when we think about the extremities or extreme situations occur.
  • Something I wrote about that a wee while ago: Some Customer Experience Lessons From United’s And My Own Experience Of Denied Boarding.
  • It’s not all bad and Ryan and David shared some positive examples of G&PS organisations that are doing some great work in their digital first initiatives including:
    • North Lanarkshire Council, a local authority in Scotland, takes more than 700,000 calls per year to its contact centre and over 16 million calls per year to its back office. Their strategy was to improve the availability and performance of its services online, while at the same time reducing operational costs. One of the main initiatives they have implemented to enable this is taking a one account approach to all of its services. It’s an approach that is leading the way in Scotland, the UK and, in many cases, the world. You can check out the case study for more details here.
  • To achieve what North Lanarkshire has achieved required both a one account approach at a national level and a lot of senior leadership will and commitment.
  • Digital first does not mean digital only. Digital must integrate with other channels.
  • The more complex an interaction the greater the need for human contact.
  • Verint’s research shows that most people prefer to self serve first but when things get complex they want to speak to someone on the phone or face to face.
  • Data, privacy, security and personalisation, particularly in light of GDPR, is a growing concern amongst G&PS organisations.
  • Asking people to ‘opt-in’ to notifications and services is a simple approach that is working well and one that Canada has been using for years to great success.
  • However, the bigger issue is how people feel about giving data to government and them holding onto it.
  • But, for personalisation to work then you need to know something about the citizen.
  • So, there is a balance to strike and trust and a value exchange needs to be established.
  • Citizens also need to be able to ’take’ their data back if they are not happy with the value they are getting from sharing their data.
  • What if cities were to allow citizens to log in with their Facebook accounts so they could understand them better and then be able to provide them with better and more appropriate information?
  • Whether you are in the public or private sector, you have to earn trust.
  • There are obvious dangers if you assume trust and/or take your citizens for granted.
  • Everything starts with a plan of what you want to achieve.
  • For G&PS organisations this has to involve citizens in the setting of objectives.
  • However, the plan needn’t be a multi year plan and should be agile in nature so that it focuses on achieving something small but meaningful in a short time period. This will help build confidence, evidence and momentum.
  • The best example for G&PS organisations would be the setting up a Portal, which allows access to numerous services. It’s also a great thing to be able to point to as evidence as well as something that can be built on and continue to be developed.
  • David and Ryan are excited about ‘bots’ within voice enabled intelligent assistants (Amazon Alexa, Google Home etc) and how that could enable access to G&PS services from your kitchen table.
  • Wow service experience for Ryan is focused around delivering the unexpected whilst for David it is focused around giving people control over their own experience, particularly when it comes to citizen experience.
  • Check out what Verint is doing with its Actionable Intelligence approach, particularly in the areas of customer engagement and cyber intelligence and the report: Overcoming the Barriers to Successful Digital First Strategies: A Government and Public Sector Guide.


About Ryan and David

Ryan HollenbeckRyan Hollenbeck serves as senior vice president of global marketing for Verint Systems. In his position, he is responsible for driving global marketing, digital and content marketing, marketing communications and operations, and sales enablement. He also is executive sponsor of the Verint Customer Experience Program that focuses on gathering a deep understanding of the customer journey and translating that information into actionable intelligence. In addition, he serves on multiple boards for industry associations and tech start-ups.

With more than 25 years in high-tech marketing, Hollenbeck brings a wealth of experience in market positioning for technology companies. During his 10 year tenure with Witness Systems—which in 2007 combined with Verint—he served as vice president of corporate marketing and investor relations. Prior to that, he held management and leadership positions with Dun & Bradstreet Software, Prentice Hall Professional Software and Crescent Communications (now Ketchum). Hollenbeck holds a Bachelor of Journalism degree with an economics minor from Oregon State University.

David MoodyDavid Moody serves as vice president, digital first engagement management for Verint Systems. In his role, he is responsible for the company’s government and public sector global business strategy. With a focus on customer and citizen engagement, Moody has a passion for driving next-gen, digital-first strategies that transform citizen service and experiences. He brings a unique combination of industry, technology and commercial skills to his work with customers, and is a frequently published thought leader and speaker in the market.

Check out Verint and the work they do at www.verint.com, grab a copy of the report Overcoming the Barriers to Successful Digital First Strategies: A Government and Public Sector Guide here, say Hi to the folks at Verint and David on Twitter @Verint and @davidm00dy and do connect with David and Ryan on LinkedIn here and here.

Thanks to wikimedia for the image.

Republished with author's permission from original post.

Adrian Swinscoe
Adrian Swinscoe brings over 25 years experience to focusing on helping companies large and small develop and implement customer focused, sustainable growth strategies.


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