by Rebecca Merrett

DHS to roll out videoconferencing, instant transfer of documents

May 08, 20142 mins
Government IT

The Department of Human Services is working on enabling customers to make video calls and instantly send physical documents to customer service consultants via the Express Plus mobile apps, CIO Gary Sterrenberg announced at the CeBIT conference in Sydney.

Express Plus Connect, as it is called, will mean customers can make an appointment for a video call with a consultant via the Express Plus app at their preferred time, with details on what documentation they will need to have with them. Customers can also connect their smartphone to a smart TV for clearer viewing.

Once they are on the call, they can take photos of the physical document and swipe the screen to send it, over the network, to the consultant on the other end. The consultant can view the document, sign it and send it back to the customer in minutes.

Sterrenberg said the idea is to speed up the process of handling paperwork, as well as save the customer from having to come into the office when they are required to by Centrelink or Medicare. For example, a student who needs to notify Centrelink he or she is changing from part time to full time study, and also needs to provide proof of full time study, would find this useful, he said.

“This is not just technology for technology’s sake, but solving some real and deep problems. It’s about the queues, it’s about the waiting times, it’s about the cost of service, and improving that service experience by getting the benefits into the hands of the citizens as quickly as we can and alleviate the pain or stress of [paperwork],” he said.

But it’s not just getting the customer on their way as soon as possible, said Sterrenberg. Customer service consultants can use the time saved in processing paperwork to see how they could further service customers.

“What we are looking for is for people to spend that one extra minute to ask the customer one extra question that could change somebody’s life. Some problems can be complex, so you just need a bit more time.”

DHS developed the technology that supports instant transfer of documents in-house, and is using Apple videoconferencing technology.