For This City, 'Customer Service' Is a Top Priority
Quick, efficient, personalized experience with a smile or an empathetic ear, that remains consistent across channels – that's all customers seem to want these days. It's the Age of the Customer, and her experience with us is what will make or break her decision to come back.
Price and product quality can no longer differentiate one company from another, or at least they won't in the near future. Organizations like Salesforce are stepping up their service platforms, and new customer success positions are popping up across the B2B sector to ensure customers optimize product usage, get the best service, and go on to become brand advocates that recruit the next best customers.
Yet CEB reports that customers are still so dissatisfied with service experiences that don't take their needs into account, that every time they turn to customer service for help, they end up 4x more likely to abandon the company.
As companies everywhere still struggle to successfully implement a customer-first approach, one city is slowly emerging as the positive example for us all: Moscow.
Creating a smart city begins with a commitment to a citizen-first approach.
When you have a population of 12.5 million citizens – a bigger population than some countries – it's easy to let people get lost in the crowd, in the bureaucracy, across the different public services and offices.
But when designing its smart city experience, Moscow officials aimed for the opposite experience. They wanted to give their citizens the kind of easy access to public services in all spheres that made citizens feel like they're not alone with their day-to-day tasks.
To make it happen, Russia's largest city had to make sure communication with the city was convenient and easy.
Here's how it did it.
How Moscow saves citizens time when consuming public services.
Moscow has integrated more than 200 types of services across thousands of city-owned institutions into one centralized system that manages and delivers public services – including utilities, housing, healthcare, education and safety.
The city's deep connectivity – multiple websites, 10 city applications, 20 SMS and USSD services, plus live street cameras – ensures that citizens wait no more than 3 minutes at any of the city's 127 brick and mortar public service offices (all located within walking distance from major city points, by the way).
Want to know which is the closest and most vacant office that can help you with your particular issue? Check online and get accurate results in real time.
Citizens get a holistic, omnichannel experience.
There are four basic elements to Moscow's system: city services portal, unified mobile platform, automated citizens' notification service, and a network of public offices located in each district of the city.
Some of the most popular services are electronic school diaries, child enrollment in schools, setting doctor's appointments online, meter readings, utilities payments, parking payments and traffic fines.
But regardless of which service citizens want to use, since Moscow integrates citizens' data, docflow and processing across all these thousands of institutions, citizens can seamlessly escalate between desktop, mobile and brick and mortar offices without needing to start processes from scratch.
Segmented and personalized service that anticipates citizens' needs.
As citizens move through the different channels of the system, Moscow gathers a lot of data about them.
The City Services Portal, for example, is the most visited website among all of Moscow governments' online properties, as it delivers key city services. It handles 100 million requests and two million transactions per year. Its mobile platform handles 250 million requests per year.
Therefore, Moscow gains unprecedented insights about the needs of different groups within its population, from drivers to parents.
When it's time to contact citizens – and Moscow is a proactive city that sends 20 million text messages and push notifications to citizens every month – government employees can send the right information to the right audience at the right time based on location, time, age and, most importantly, their personal history of interaction with the services of the Moscow government.
Looking for a competitive advantage for your city? Putting citizens' needs first is the smart thing to do.
According to "The World's Cities in 2016" data booklet by the United Nations, "in 2016, an estimated 54.5 percent of the world's population lived in urban settlements. By 2030, urban areas are projected to house 60% of people globally, and one in every three people will live in cities with at least half a million inhabitants."
Choosing which city to call home will no longer be just about the infrastructure or utilities a certain city offers. Just like product quality in the business world, high quality utilities will become a bare minimum cities will need to provide.
Housing prices will also only take you so far, as citizens will have more and more choices. The above-mentioned UN report predicts that the number of megacities – cities like Moscow, with over 10 million inhabitants – will grow from 31 in 2016 to 41 by 2030.
Similarly, the number of cities with 5 to 10 million inhabitants will grow from 34 to 63, and the number of cities between 1 and 5 million inhabitants will grow from 436 to 559. There will be plenty of choices of smaller cities too, with the number of cities with 500,000 and 1 million inhabitants expected to grow from 551 to 731, according to the report.
In a world with so much choice, and increasing globalized opportunities, cities that want to keep or build their competitive advantage will design urban experiences that stand out of the crowd in how they put citizens' needs before anything else. It's just the smart thing to do.