No more clerk with a rubber stamp: Service NSW touts its people as key to its success

Picks up AU$50 million in additional 2019-20 Budget funding to keep progressing work on the business model the federal government has itself adopted.
Written by Asha Barbaschow, Contributor

Service NSW buses to service rural and regional communities  

Service NSW, the New South Wales government's one-stop shop for citizen service delivery, has picked up an additional AU$50 million in funding in the state's 2019-20 Budget handed down on Tuesday.

According to the Budget papers, the additional funding demonstrates the government's commitment to expanding the reach of government services and improving customer experience.

AU$70 million, comprised of AU$55 million in expenses and AU$15 million in capital, will be spent over four years to roll out 10 new Service NSW centres across Metropolitan Sydney in: Merrylands, Randwick, Revesby, Northmead, Engadine, Glenmore Park, Prestons/Edmondson Park, Roselands, North Sydney, and Schofields.

The state is also sending out four one-stop shop Service NSW buses to service communities throughout the state.

For a cost of AU$4 million, the buses are aimed at expanding service delivery to customers that would otherwise have to travel hours or a whole day just to visit their nearest service centre. The total of this project over four years is AU$10.5 million.

Service NSW will also be increasing the number of cost of living services available through Service NSW on behalf of agencies including the Energy Switch Program, the Regional Seniors Transport Card, the IVF Rebate Program, and the Road Toll Relief Program.

Funding allocated for 2019-20 is also to be used by Service NSW on existing works in progress, such as technology upgrades to "support increased scale of operation", Service NSW's Easy To Do Business Program, site enhancements and upgrades, and on rural and regional network transition to service centres.

Service NSW is expected to spend a total of AU$54.6 million this financial year, with estimations allocating AU$9.2 million for 2020-21, AU$13.7 million for 2021-22, and AU$30.2 million in 2022-23.

Launched in July 2014, Service NSW brought together a number of different NSW government services under the one office -- including Roads and Maritime Services (RMS); Births, Deaths and Marriages; and small business support -- with the remit to be the one-stop-shop for state government interactions, combined with a mandate from government to bring 80% of transactions through a digital channel.

See also: Service NSW ditches Microsoft for Google (TechRepublic)

Speaking at the Gartner Customer Experience & Technologies Summit in Sydney on Monday, director of product management for Service NSW's Easy to do Business program Georgos Papanastasiou said the organisation has placed a lot of focus on its people and touted that as its success.

"We really believe that happy people, happy staff, provide a great customer service -- they're more responsive to change and are better equipped to embrace new technologies, systems, and processes if they're happy," he said.

"We place the customer at the heart of what we do and offer them a single point of contact for all of government."

According to Papanastasiou, Service NSW has cut its thousands of phone numbers down to one, and hundreds of websites down to one starting point -- service.nsw.gov.au. He said its agency shop fronts boasts customer satisfaction consistently up at around 97%.

"We started with the physical ... old RMS service centres looking quite pail and uninviting -- not really a place you want to go. We can all remember what it was like having to take a number, sitting down for what could turn out to be hours facing a non-smiling clerk armed with a rubber stamp just ready," he said.

"We needed to create a workplace where people actually want to come to work. We are actively listening to staff feedback and constantly adjusting to that."

With over 1,000 government transactions available at Service NSW, Papanastasiou said over 1,500 business improvement ideas have come directly from staff.

"It reminds us we need to put the customer at the centre of what we do," he said. "We're really proud of everything that we've achieved, we're constantly evolving, and we have even more exciting things on the way for our people which will in turn benefit our customers."

Following machinery of government changes made after the March 2019 election, Service NSW has now been moved from a function under the former Finance, Services and Innovation cluster to the Customer Service cluster, which now also includes Long Service Corporation, the Rental Bond Board, the State Insurance Regulatory Authority, and the New South Wales Government Telecommunications Authority.

Digital Driver's Licences slated for August go-live

Service NSW is planning on rolling out digital driver's licences across the state in August.

"After successful trials in key locations -- New South Wales drivers will be the first in the country to have the choice of a digital driver's licence from August this year," Treasurer Dominic Perrottet said in his Budget speech on Tuesday.

The state in late-May announced it had extended the trial to Albury in the state's south.

"The trial has been extended Albury to identify potential cross border issues before the digital driver licence is rolled out state-wide," Service NSW said in a statement.

The metro trial of the digital driver licence began in November across Sydney's Eastern Beaches, allowing more than 140,000 licence holders in the region to ditch the plastic identification card for a smartphone-rendered copy, available via the Service NSW app.

The trial expanded to Dubbo late last year, allowing participants to use their digital driver licence for proof-of-identity and proof-of-age to gain entry into pubs and clubs, as well as for roadside police checks.

Minister for Finance, Services and Property Victor Dominello revealed in December that rollout of digital driver licences would occur soon after the March 2019 state election, saying at the time the Service NSW app was ready.

According to Papanastasiou, the digital driver's licence play forms part of the organisation's attempt to redefine what "identity" is.

"We're redefining the concept of identity with programs such as the digital driver's licence, tell government once, and also proof of identity -- that's all with the aim of making life much easier for our customers," he said.

See also: Service NSW to develop multi-factor authentication identity platform as opt-in

Service NSW is the poster child for government service delivery, with the federal government recently launching an Australia-wide initiative based on the NSW model.

Services Australia is aimed at "lifting and improving service delivery for all Australians". It replaces the Department of Human Services, which had a slight brand problem.

"I want to see some congestion-busting not on our roads ... but when it comes to bureaucratic bottlenecks and regulatory bottlenecks so Australians can get access to those services in a more timely and efficient way," the prime minister said when announcing the initiative.

"Making better use of technology and better integrating service delivery across different portfolios."


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