Channel Shift Elevated: Citizen Service Delivery Beyond Online Forms

Réka Sarudi February 27, 2023

Expert’s view

Doing more with less is a common theme for public sector organizations. However, heightened citizen expectations and changing user behaviors are urging leaders to take their citizen services to the next level.

In response, most organizations have been exploiting channel shift, driving traffic—where possible—from human-assisted channels to online self-service delivery. Forward-thinking organizations, however, can go beyond this widely accepted strategy and elevate their channel shift.

What does the expert think about the state of digital transformation of citizen services? I asked Verint’s David Moody, VP & GM of Citizen Engagement, about the significance and benefits of Channel Shift Elevated, Verint’s new approach to public sector service delivery. Before we start the interview, here’s his expert view at a glance:

  • Putting forms online without any integration isn’t worth the effort.
  • The lack of automatic progress updates drives cost—the opposite of what you need.
  • Introduce ‘channel shift’ targets for each of your high-volume services (the percentage of interactions performed using a self-service channel), and measure your performance against them.
  • Exploit recent behavioral changes, harnessing a wider demographic of people to use your digital services—and they’ll thank you for it!

Reka Sarudi (R.S.) So, what is channel shift?

David Moody (D.M.): Channel shift as an idea is not new. The term has been used in the UK for 5+ years to refer to the shift of citizen services available on the phone to the web, preferably to a self-service channel. The main motivation behind this shift is replacing costly, human-assisted channels with a cheaper channel. Analysts estimate that agent-assisted interactions cost about $6-12 per interaction, while automated self-service costs only a fraction of this price: approximately 25 cents per interaction.1

R.S. Do organizations approach channel shift the same way?

D.M. Not at all. There are different types of channel shift, and therefore there are different levels of channel shift maturity. Some organizations are doing “just enough”, while there’s a way to “do it right”.

A typical example for the first case is putting request forms online for services such as reporting a pothole or requesting a new waste bin.

Putting a form online without any integration results in e-mails being sent to somebody in your organization who has to respond to them. Your service might look prettier, it might be more accessible in some ways, but at the end of the day, someone has to respond to the request, costing your organization much more than the aforementioned 25 cents.

But it’s worse than that. You’re also creating the illusion that a citizen is using a digital service, while the request fulfillment in the background remains manual.

If you want to do channel shift right, you have to implement what are called bi-directional integrations. Meaning that when your citizen requests a service online, it is not only automatically passed to the relevant fulfillment system, but automatic updates are also fed back to the citizen.

Without proactively telling the customer where the process is, you practically invite wasteful and unnecessary follow-up calls, which increase your costs.

R.S. Can organizations do more who are already automating their intake processes and providing automatic progress updates to their customers?

D.M. Absolutely. Channel Shift Elevated is our approach to help organizations move their channel strategy to the next level. To achieve this, as I’ve explained above, I suggest organizations ensure they have integrated their high-volume services bi-directionally to reduce costs, increase efficiency, and create more-informed citizen experiences.

The third thing I strongly recommend is to start measuring channel shift and set channel KPIs, such as the percentage of services they would like to get completed without human intervention.

This doesn’t have to be 100%, as there will always be citizens who’ll need help, and your targets don’t have to be the same for every service you provide. For example, your goal can be 80% of pothole reports to be completed via your self-service portal. But when it comes to requesting property tax balances, your target could be higher—let’s say 90%.

Once you have these targets set, monitor them, because behaviors change and you have a unique opportunity to drive them. Staying with the property tax balance example, you can educate them on how to use your self-service portal instead of ringing your call center in order to get a faster, better, more convenient service. 

R.S. Many organizations today struggle with challenges such as budgeting and staffing issues. Do you think the timing is good for them to elevate their channel shift strategy?

D.M. The time is perfect for Channel Shift Elevated. Lockdown has forced people to use services and complete purchases online. Top consumer brands provide customers with order updates to an incredible level of detail—such as how far your delivery is from your door. And citizens are expecting the same from government services. In addition, today there’s a larger demographic of citizens open to interacting with your organization online than ever before.

Many who preferred staying away from using online services before the pandemic are now using online services—because in many cases, they were forced to. This is especially true of social messaging apps.

Why social messaging apps? Because the types of people I’m talking about were previously thought of as being “digitally excluded”—people who are not proficient users of the internet. Many of them don’t know the difference between a URL and an email address and find it challenging to visit a website using a URL. Social messaging apps are very easy to access and use. As such, I see social messaging apps as a huge opportunity for government organizations, because supporting these channels opens up their services to a much wider people demographic.

R.S. How does Channel Shift Elevated add to improved citizen services?

D.M. By elevating their channel strategy, organizations can achieve more efficient services, reallocate their resources and keep their citizens informed about the progress of their requests, which creates better citizen experiences.

Furthermore, when high-volume, routine requests are completed via self-service portals, scarce, human expertise can be focused on more complex requests. By measuring channel performance, organizations can also get a clearer view on user behavior and adjust their strategy accordingly.

Collecting user feedback digitally and automatically after each and every transaction can help you uncover process flaws and gain a fuller picture on the usability of your services—ultimately driving more channel shift and cost optimization.

To learn more about Channel Shift Elevated and how Verint helps public sector organizations achieve their goals, visit


1 Source: What are the Benefits of a Self-Service Contact Centre?, CX Today, 2021