Developing service structures
The public administration provides services to its clients through different channels. The Ministry of Finance collects and develops services in order to build a customer-oriented, uniform and multichannel customer service.
The central point of view in developing the service structure is providing more electronic services and organising customer services in a new way. The goal is to strengthen the electronic services and focus the customer service in a way that makes using them to search for services an accessible, easy-to-use option for the client instead of the traditional direct service from experts and authorities. In particular, electronic and telephone services and joint customer service points will be developed.
It has been possible to increase the availability, quality, productivity and efficiency of public administration and public services by setting service goals for the state authorities in local government. From the client's point of view, a service goal means a promise by the authority on the maximum length of handling time, for example.
The goal is, as far as is appropriate and effective, to move into the use of electronic services in all important situations in a citizen's life and at the different stages of a company's life cycle. The administrative services, forms and information services for citizens can be found under one address at the suomi.fi portal for citizens. Similarly, the business services have been collected under their own portal: yrityssuomi.fi.
Telephone services provide a familiar, location-independent channel to allow citizens to contact the authorities. Several authorities have introduced national service numbers and established customer service centres, through which citizens can receive expert help by telephone.
Also available is the Public Service Info, whose main goal is to direct citizens to the correct authority, to answer general questions by citizens concerning the services of the public administration, and to help the citizens in using electronic support services. The service started operating at the State Treasury on 25 November 2013, and it is being further developed in the Citizens’ Advice Service Project as a part of the Action Programme on eServices and eDemocracy (SADe programme) until 30 June 2015.
Joint services form the basis for developing joint customer services (Act on Joint Services of Public Administration (223/2007)). Joint services are a way of offering public administration and other services in a centralised way at a single location. Joint services are based on cooperation between municipalities and the state authorities as well as voluntary agreements. At the moment, there are approximately 200 joint service points operating in Finland.
Voluntary joint services have not progressed as desired. This has created a need to ascertain how the customer services of the public administration could be guaranteed throughout the whole country, as required by law. This investigation has been carried out in the Customer Service 2014 project.
The goal of the Customer Service 2014 project is that joint customer service points will offer clients an opportunity to receive most of the public administration services at the same location. The opportunity to use remote services will be linked to the joint customer service points. Remote service (video conferencing) implements expert services at the service points and in the long term, in the client's home, too. This also makes it possible to provide full customer service by an expert in places where a physical presence is not possible. If necessary, various additional services such as remote interpretation can also be included in the service. The goal is to construct joint customer service points to cover the whole of Finland in 2016–2019.