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Birth of a Child Life Event

March 2017


The big picture

Customer expectations of modern service delivery are higher than ever

Service delivery is moving away from simple supplier relationships to ecosystems that connect people. Examples include Uber, Air BnB and Amazon. Increasingly, people expect to ‘consume’ public services in the same way and to the same standard as when they interact with digital services in their everyday lives. The New Zealand government wants public services to be radically transformed for the benefit of all New Zealanders. This desire is exemplified in the government's Better Public Services programme -- specifically Result 10, which encourages government agencies to work together to make it easy for New Zealanders’ to deal with government in a digital environment. 

From this work came our vision for customer-centred public service delivery in New Zealand:

“New Zealanders can complete their transactions with government easily in a digital environment.”

From the Government’s, Better Public Services plan, Result 10.

“Customers experience seamless, integrated and trusted public services.”

Key outcome of the Government ICT Strategy 2015.

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Where we are

diagram showing how an individual customer must interact with many agencies

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Customers have told us

Services need to better reflect customer needs

Our research found:

  • Life is about events, not agencies. When people interact with government they do so in order to have a personal need met.
  • When customers interact with government around moments of big change in their lives, they are frustrated by agency silos or lack of information about their entitlements and obligations.
  • Easy + Easy + Easy ≠ Easy: The more interactions customers have with government the more pain points they experience, irrespective of their demographic.

“When it comes to dealing with public services I feel frustrated, unappreciated, like a number, not a person”

– Result 10 Customer Research participant


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…about their experiences

Parents and caregivers told us about their experience of using public services when they had a baby

Our research found:

  • New parents struggle to navigate multiple agencies to access the services and information they need.
  • They provide the same information again and again through the journey from registering with a midwife to enrolling their child into preschool.
  • Those who urgently need to register their baby’s birth to access support services found the process difficult, and experienced the most trouble and delays.
  • The time after the birth of a child is one of the most challenging in a parent’s life so tasks that are normally easy can be challenging.
  • Birth registration is a means to an end for a lot of people.

"After my baby’s birth I contacted government agencies for support.

“Huge source of stress and misunderstanding, [I]felt no one knew what I was entitled to”

- Result 10 Customer Research participant

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So we proposed a new model

image showing how one customer interacts with an integraged service

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A smarter system for…

Putting customers at the centre of Public services

OUR GOAL is to enable people to have easy access to public services which are designed around them, when they need them.

OUR FOCUS areas:

  • Life events driving integrated services
  • Proactive delivery of criteria-related services that are triggered by age, circumstances or extraordinary situations
  • Information Management
  • A single verified identity to access public services

OUR TARGET for 2025:

  • Reduced effort to access public services
  • Eliminate the need for applications for criteria-related entitlements
  • Integrated public services around people’s life event


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This is an ‘ecosystem’

An ecosystem for service delivery

This model transforms the way government works for customers by creating an ecosystem that enables them to interact through their channel of choice and not have to worry about the inner workings of government.

We’re not just talking about technical integration, but at all levels of service delivery across agencies to deliver a seamless experience for the customer.

“We’re not just talking about technical integration, but connecting multiple agencies and their business processes to deliver great seamless customer experiences.”


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The benefits?

For our customers

  • Reduced customer effort required to access public services
  • Increased customer satisfaction
  • Greater uptake of entitlements by eligible customers
  • Reduction in penalties and debt incurred inadvertently by customers who have failed to meet obligations to government

For Government

  • Reduced per-transaction service delivery costs
  • Improved public perception of government
  • Greater realisation of entitlement-related policy objectives
  • Greater realisation of compliance-related policy objectives
  • Reduced service delivery infrastructure costs

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Guiding principles

However the ecosystem takes shape, these principles will be at its heart:

  • Personalised: services are personalised, context-specific and seamless for customers
  • Proactive: customers are able to understand in advance which government services they need, where to go to get them, and how to access them
  • Integrated: government agencies and partner organisations will deliver a smooth customer experience where service elements span organisational boundaries
  • Consent-based: customers give informed consent to agencies to exchange their information to enable accurate service delivery
  • Digital: digital by choice, digital by design and digital by default
  • Transparent: customers can see and understand all the services and actions undertaken for them by agencies
  • Distributed: integrated service delivery will leverage the capability and assets of individual agencies wherever possible

More detail: Privacy Act / consent principles

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Our starting point

We plan to focus on one life event at a time to begin to form an ecosystem. The aim is to keep things manageable and focussed by building around one life event at a time, but looking for each event to contribute common functionality to the ecosystem of public services, with greater value to New Zealanders as more events are delivered.

Adaptive and reusable: An iterative approach where each life event learns from the lessons of those gone before and builds on these to the benefit of the whole system.

One life event, multiple agencies: Any one life event is likely to require connecting multiple agencies seamlessly to deliver a great customer experience.

We’ve started with these life events; more will follow:

  • Birth of a child (now known as SmartStart) – first release delivered December 2016
  • Preparing for and managing bereavement
  • Becoming a victim or witness to crime
  • Moving house: Renting a home
  • Becoming a Senior: Turning 65


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… Birth Of A Child life event, now known as SmartStart

The first life event within the ecosystem that we focused on was the birth of a child. We wanted to make it easier for parents and caregivers to access relevant information and services for themselves and their babies from conception to early childhood, through the delivery of customer-centric, cross-agency digital tools and processes. It also establishes the digital identity for a child to use throughout their life. 

This is a multi-agency initiative by:

  • Department of Internal Affairs (lead agency)
  • Inland Revenue
  • Ministry of Social Development
  • Ministry of Health
  • With guidance and advisory support from Plunket and the New Zealand College of Midwives.

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A possible future customer journey

Road map showing possible interactions with government before and after a baby i

About SmartStart

SmartStart is the first of the New Zealand Government’s integrated services to be delivered with four prominent government agencies working collaboratively on the project, with the first release successfully launched to the public in December 2016.

SmartStart alleviates identified customer pain points around dealing with government services and entitlements when having a child. SmartStart puts the customer at the centre, where essential transactions related to having a baby (such as finding a midwife, birth registration, adjusting Ministry of Social Development benefits and applying for the child’s IRD number) can be done in one place, anywhere and anytime.

In only three months after going live, over 50,000 people visited SmartStart. This number is higher than anticipated given New Zealand only has 60,000 births per annum. In addition, the number of those New Zealanders choosing to share their digital birth record with the Ministry of Social Development from the birth registration is a third higher than we anticipated. 

Three months after the launch, a lessons learned case study was produced, sharing key achievements and learnings from throughout the SmartStart project journey.

Some of these include:

  • Customer insight is transformational
  • Just start: building a MVP is okay
  • Be agile, don’t just do agile
  • Build strong and authentic relationships
  • Be bold; create new ways of working
  • The funding model will be ever-evolving, and not perfect
  • Get started with ‘just enough’ technology strategy and architectural understanding

The whole lessons learned case study is available here:

Need more information?

If you want further information about this project, please contact us at nzlifeevents@dia.govt.nz



Page last updated: 16/03/2017