Guest blog by Olivier Withouck
The government in Europe is under heavy pressure to implement savings in European countries. A number of factors are at the basis. The most important are undoubtedly the continuing economic crisis and the extra cost to society of the aging population. Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending an event at UWV in Amsterdam. UWV faces an enormous challenge: saving 60 million euros by 2015 and at the same time maintaining the relationship with the customer - the customer may not be the appropriate term here. The customer is the unemployed person.
Henk de Ruiter, Head of Customer Expertise, made it clear that 35% of customers are very vulnerable when it comes to reintegration into the labor market. They are mostly people who are not so comfortable with the internet and who need guidance for applying online. By closing dozens of UWV offices in the Netherlands, these customers are forced to use online services for all processes such as document preparation, job application, training. No way back but at the expense of what.
During the workshop on how we will digitize UWV efficiently, an interesting discussion will start. Within the profit sector it is important to offer the widest possible range of channels to pursue customer retention and to serve the customer as well as possible. Online chat, contact center, online ordering, collection points, same day delivery. Successful ecommerce companies such as Coolblue offer every opportunity to pamper their customers. Digitization within the government is completely behind this stream. Deleting channels seems like the message. Close offices, limit written communication as much as possible. At the same time, with the tendency to realize as much administration as possible online, savings are made on telephone traffic.
The key question here is whether by limiting all human interaction, the target group of needy applicants will not be completely left out in the cold and become acquainted with their unemployed situation. An alarming evolution. Save at the expense of people. There is no way back. Survival of the fittest…