GASTBLOG: Save at the expense of what?
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 ongoing economic crisis and the additional cost to society of the aging population. Yesterday I had the pleasure of attending an event at UWV in Amsterdam. UWV is faced with an enormous challenge: saving 60 million euros by 2015 and at the same time maintaining the relationship with the customer – customer may not be the appropriate term here. The customer is the unemployed.
Henk de Ruiter, Head of Customer Expertise made it clear that 35% of the customers are very vulnerable when it comes to reintegration into the labor market. They are often people who are not very 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 the online service for all processes such as preparing documents, applying for a job and training. No way back but at all costs.
An interesting discussion started during the workshop on how to efficiently digitize UWV. Within the profit sector it is important to offer the widest possible range of channels in order to strive for 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 all possibilities to pamper their customers. Digitization within the government is completely against this current. Deleting channels seems to be the message. Close offices, limit written communication as much as possible. At the same time, with the tendency to realize as much administrative processing as possible online, telephone traffic is being saved.
The key question here is whether by limiting all human interaction, the target group of needy applicants will not be left completely out in the cold and resigned to their jobless situation. A disturbing evolution. Saving at the expense of people. There is no way back. Survival of the fittest…