When you’re one of the biggest départements in France in terms of population, home to the country’s leading port complex and with big ambitions for the future, continually maximizing the service you offer to your citizens is more than a priority. It’s both an obligation and an opportunity to further improve the quality of your interactions with them and the professional way in which each matter is handled. The challenge? To implement personalized tools from the world of CRM (Customer Relationship Management), to boost the management of relations with citizens. That’s just what the general council for the Seine Maritime (CG 76) has done, with Bull’s help. The big innovation? Adapting advanced CRM solutions to build personalized services for citizens, linked to all the council’s services and social welfare applications. The result? A personal area for each citizen or businessperson, where they can interact with the council, manage and track their welfare requests, and contribute to the community’s development.
With a total population of 1,269,310 inhabitants and an area of 6278 km2, Seine Maritime is ranked 12th out of 96 French departments.
Opinion piece by Serge Salasca, Manager responsible for Bull’s Citizen Relationship Management and ERP offerings in the public financial management area within Bull Software Solutions.
In the private sector, Customer Relationship Management refers to the implementation of tools, processes and strategies with the aim of building lasting relationships between a business and its contacts and future customers. But how can we adapt that commercial model to the public sector and local authorities who are, by definition, not-for-profit organizations?
These days, citizens are used to demanding certain levels of service and quality of supply, and they increasingly expect this in the public sector too, at least from the authorities that are closest to them and there to address the issues that concern them most. They want their dealings with central and local government to be carried out using the resources at their disposition: the Internet, of course, but also their smartphones, via text, or of course in person when it comes to relevant local services such as town halls, social security and local authority offices. Whether as citizens or users, they want to be known and recognized, not just as a number among so many others waiting in line. When they come up against a problem, they don’t just want to be able to speak to civil servants who respond quickly, but who can also provide the most appropriate and personalized solutions to their needs, no matter what they might be (requests for welfare benefits, emergency help, a copy of a record, a parking permit, removal of an obstacle, a request for help or just for information about a particular situation…).
Our work has also led us to extend the scope of relationships with local authorities to all their partners, essential allies when it comes to dealing with often complex matters or situations, without whom they would not really have a full picture of what is going on.
This is exactly the thinking behind the innovative Social CRM project that Bull has been developing in partnership with the Council of the Seine Maritime département in France (CGSM), based on a Microsoft Dynamics CRM framework integrated with Bull’s social welfare software package Genesis, which we have also extended and adapted to manage relationships with citizens and partners. Technology advances effectively now enable public services to come up with new ways of dealing with citizens and to rethink the relationship between the citizen and his or her government. As an innovative public authority, CGSM wanted to position the citizen or the user as the central player in the relationship with the Council, so that the service it provides becomes a true ‘public service’. The challenge? To discover genuine best practice, developed over many years in the public and private sectors, and apply this to the world of local authorities. And also to find the right resources that would allow the Council to easily analyze its data, to provide an appropriate picture of the social sector which not only helps it to assess and understand the situations it faces, but also to anticipate them by implementing a genuine knowledge base, a kind of ‘Google Social’ for the whole département.
The result? A ‘Social CRM’ solution has been implemented for CGSM which has now been extended to create a 360° Customer Relationship, which is available to and could be adapted for other local authorities, most notably using Le Cloud by Bull and Numergy’s secure, sovereign cloud platform. Building on this experience with the Seine Maritime Council, Bull is already working to extend CRM to other key local authority functions (transport, highways, education, health, children’s services…) and further enhance it with a Citizens Portal. The latter should enable citizens/service users to submit requests themselves, track them and receive an appropriate response, send reminders and ultimately provide feedback on how satisfied they were with the way their matter was dealt with.
Experience shows that ‘reconciling’ the relationships between local authorities and citizens has proved to be an especially valuable thing to do for both parties. It opens the way to many other ways of using the tools provided, and we now see ‘Citizen Relationship Management’ as just the first building block in a vast potential construction. Looking forward, we foresee new more personalized and locally rooted social relationships with citizens, just like those created by the advent of Web 2.0 and social networking.