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User/Citizen Experiences in the Public Sector: Improving Engagement, Accountability, and Communications

The government has committed to making public services work better for users/citizens with increased accountability and a commitment to open governance. The forthcoming Cosla and government publication, a local government framework will explore how end users can better interact with services, focusing on community engagement and accountability.

This event examines the key challenges to improving engagement, accountability and communication across Scotland’s public services.  

The User/ Citizen role in the Customer Service Landscape 

Never before has there been such an open commitment to making Scotland’s public sector work better for its citizens. Open Government pledges to increase the accountability and transparency of public services and improve the citizen's journey. The user researchers, designers and local authority professionals in charge of citizen experience and communication will be key to this being a success.

Join us to hear from experts and policymakers as we examine the factors that impact customer service and experience, explore the measures that are being taken to support innovate communication and accountability, and ask what more should be done by the Scottish Government, local authorities, and service providers. 

Key issues we will address with you

  • Making the citizen experience lead organisational change
  • Enhancing participation through multiple channels
  • Overcoming internal barriers to improve citizens’ access to public services
  • Understanding needs, user journeys and how to build trust through improving communications.

Who should attend? 

The event will be of interest to anyone involved in customer service and experience including:

  • Heads of Customer Insight  
  • Heads of Communications  
  • Senior User Researchers  
  • Heads of Digital
  • Engagement officers
  • Community engagement officials
  • Performance Insight Manager
  • Service Improvement Manager 
  • Heads of Customer Service Development  
  • Customer Relationship Managers  
  • Heads of Customer Experience  
  • Heads of Customer Services  
  • Customer Contact Managers  


Chair: Professor Alan Alexander OBE, former General Secretary of The Royal Society of Edinburgh

Doreen Grove, Head of Open Government, Scottish Government 

Zahid Deen, Director, Digital and Service Transformation, Alliance Scotland

Saskia Kearns, Open Government Partnership Commitment 4: Scottish Government Lead  

Andy MacDonald - Director of Customer Services - Aberdeen City Council

Professor Alan Wilson, PhD, Director of Research, Department of Marketing, University of Strathclyde

Alex Stobbart, Open Government Partnership Scotland civil society representative

Alasdair Hay, Independent Chair of OGP Commitment 4 Collaborative Working Group 

Steve Robertson, People First


9:45 Registration and Refreshments 

10:25 Welcome and Introduction from the Chair 

Professor Alan Alexander OBE, former General Secretary of The Royal Society of Edinburgh

10:30 Session 1: Policy and Users/Citizens

Government Commitments to Put Users at the Heart of Service Delivery and Design 

The government has committed that all users should be at the heart of public services.

This session will explore the responsibilities and requirements to meeting the governmental commitments to a user/ citizen-centred design, experience, accountability and open government in the public sector within a customer service context

10:30 Doreen Grove, Head of Open Government, Scottish Government 

Exploring partnerships with citizens, the need for collaboration across sectors and opening up discussions around co-production and service design. 

10:50 Zahid Deen, Director, Digital and Service Transformation, Alliance Scotland

11:05 Questions and discussion

11:40 Refreshments and Networking 

12:00 Session 2: Implementing the Scottish Approach to Service Redesign 

Andy MacDonald - Director of Customer Services - Aberdeen City Council

In June 2019 the Office of the Chief Designer for Scotland published 'The Scottish Approach to Service Redesign.' 

The document aims to take forward principles from within the Christie Commission and 'empower individuals and communities receiving public services by involving them in the design and delivery of the services they use.'

So what does this mean in practice for public sector organisation and how can services be designed to effectively meet the needs of both frontline staff and citizens? Furthermore, how does the Scottish Approach to Service Redesign interlink with the use of social media and emerging technology such as AI and chatbots?

Engaging with Users Across Multiple Platforms 

  • Keeping the human voice and engaging on a digital platform
  • Being transparent and open when using customer data
  • Communicating change clearly and efficiently
  • Ensuring social media is a key part of the customer journey
  • Training teams to be empowered to handle difficult cases

Steve Robertson, People First

Including Citizens in Service Re-design

Petitions and experiences of engagement when asking for change

What Does Excellence Look Like Now?

Professor Alan Wilson PhD

  • Delivering excellent service in the public sector
  • Managing customer journeys/ citizens expectations throughout their journey on multiple channels
  • Utilising AI, chatbots and other technology for service delivery

13:10 Lunch and Networking 

14:00 Session 3: Workshop: Improving Access to Accountability of Public Services

Commitment 4 of the current national Scotland Open Government Action Plan 2018-20 seeks to improve citizens’ access to accountability of public services.  A citizen’s ability to effectively seek redress, raise complaints, inform decision making and policy development, is key to ensuring our public services deliver quality outcomes for Scotland.  This workshop will provide an opportunity for public service practitioners to discuss and identify – based on experience – what they see as the existing barriers and challenges of access for end-users.  The evidence gathered will be used to inform the development of pilot solutions to be taken forward in 2020 by the Commitment 4 Collaborative Working Group, a partnership across civic society, scrutiny / regulatory bodies and government.

The workshop will also be a chance for any interested public service providers to become more involved in this work moving forward – Commitment 4 leads will be happy to discuss opportunities for on-going collaboration.

This session will be run by the Open Government Team, focusing on Commitment 4, including both civic society and government representatives.

Workshop Facilitator: Alasdair Hay, Independent Chair of OGP Commitment 4 Collaborative Working Group 

Saskia Kearns, Open Government Partnership Commitment 4: Scottish Government Lead

Alex Stobart, Director - Open Government Partnership, Commitment 4, Scotland civil society representative

15:20 Closing Remarks from the Chair 

Professor Alan Alexander OBE, former General Secretary of The Royal Society of Edinburgh

15:30 Close of Event 

*The agenda is subject to change 

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16 Oct 2019
COSLA, Verity House, 19 Haymarket Yards, Edinburgh EH12 5BH
Reduced rate
1 place £145 + VAT

Voluntary / charitable organisations with an annual income of less than £1m

Standard rate
1 place £245 + VAT | 2+ places £195 + VAT per place

Public sector organisations and voluntary/charitable organisations with an annual income over £1m

Private Sector rate
1 place £295 + VAT | 2+ places £245 + VAT per place

Commercial organisations e.g. plc, Ltd, LLP

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