Looking into the future of resident communications for local government

Topic: Local Government

Local governments face a big challenge to make sure that each of their residents receives important communications. With a wide variety of demographics to engage with, a communication strategy must be developed which increases the chance of everyone reading their messages.

What are the communication channel options available to local government today?

As well as traditional channels like post, a steady flow of communication channels have emerged over the years. SMS, IVRs, web chat, and most recently bots, have all added speed and convenience for local government and residents alike. The challenge, however, lies in choosing a channel which is engaging for all.
For example, while traditional postal communications might work better with more mature residents, they’re less likely to be read by younger ones. By the same token, using a channel like web chat might have a high engagement rate for millennials, it’s not popular with over 60s.
This is where RCS can help form part of an engaging communication strategy. Rich Communication Services, or RCS, may not be a household name now, but that’s rapidly going to change as it replaces SMS over the next few years. And when we consider that 85% of the UK’s population now own a smartphone, employing a channel like RCS which employs the latest mobile messaging technology, starts making a lot of sense.

What are the benefits of RCS to local governments?

RCS is designed to ultimately replace SMS as the default message app on Android devices over the next few years and represents significant functionality improvements over the previous platform.
Local governments will be able to set up fully automated and branded interactions with their residents, using new tools like buttons, interactive media such as video and barcodes, and integrated payment facilities. The ease with which interactions can take place will appeal to all demographics who are keen to self-serve, rather than interact via post or telephone call.
The self-serve nature of the platform also means that local governments will be able to make significant resource savings by automating processes (E.g. overdue council tax collections) which would have previously required a manual interaction.

So what are the applications of RCS in the Public Sector?

RCS can be used to automate a multitude of different interactions for local governments, but here are just two of the ways we’re currently working with our customers to provide more engaging interactions.
Collect council tax / arrange repayment plans
RCS is great for automating large scale payment collections like council tax.
Residents with outstanding payments could first of all receive a reminder with how much they were due to pay. They could then use the integrated payment facility to make a the required payment. If they wanted to speak with an agent to discuss the arrangement of a repayment plan, they could select the “Chat with us” option, allowing the resident and an agent to engage in a text chat via RCS.
Maintenance engineer appointments
It can be an expensive waste of time and resource for housing associations to send a maintenance engineer to a property and find out that they are not home.
RCS can help with this by first of all providing a convenient platform for the resident to make the appointment and add the appointment to their calendar. They can then rearrange the appointment if required from within the same RCS interaction.

How can local governments get started with RCS?

If you’re interested to know more about how RCS can be used within the public sector and how Esendex can make it work more effectively for you, please get in contact with our team today on 0345 356 5758 or email us at [email protected].

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