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22 Ideas to Improve Customer Service

The Customer Service series is supported by RightNow Technologies. To learn more on how to use cloud technology to improve customer service, visit the RightNow resource center today. Check out the GovLoop/RightNow Customer Service Hub to get smart on how to be awesome at customer service

Yesterday GovLoop held our 1st GovLoop Symposium (in partnership with Rightnow) where we focused on how government can improve customer service and meet the new executive order on customer service.

We had an awesome group of around 40 government leaders from NIH to DOD to OPM to USDA (over 20 different agencies) where we had an interactive dialogue led by Wendi Brick and speakers Martha Dorris (GSA), David Dejewski (DOD), and Kevin Paschuck (RightNow Technologies)

The group was full of ideas to improve service so I thought I’d right up 22 quick ideas on how to improve customer service that came from yesterday’s session where we organized the discussion based on the 5 questions of the Obama Customer Service Memo.

What are the best mechanisms to solicit customer feedback and integrate into a feedback loop?

1) Basic web analytics to get stats on what customers actually doing & words searching on

2) Add a link to a survey in employee signature lines

3) Use social media to get feedback – some people may not want to fill out a full survey but will tell you how doing
4) Host focus groups – a good way to do it is with webinar focus groups

5) Ask the employees on the front line what common complaints are

How do we set clear customer service expectations and standards?

6) Engage the customer group in setting expectations

7) Society often defines what good customer service is – gov’t keeping with customer expectations across all experiences

8) Set closed loop sessions – Set expectations, train staff, measure performance, reward people, coach others, continuous feedback loop

9) Everyone is different in how interpret customer service

How do we coordinate across service channels? Breaking down communication tools further, what are some best services channels?

10) Need to start with the knowledge foundations, everything built on a common platform

11) Usa.gov does have a knowledge base, makes a huge difference on the consistency across channels

12) Make sure have FAQ but also SAQ – should have asked questions – what questions should your customers be asking you

13) Get to clear simple mission & get everyone involved that customer service as part of job

14) Hierarchy of needs – set the knowledge information first, consistent message across organizations, survey, get everything solidify and then add more advanced services

How do you streamline agency processes to reduce costs and accelerate delivery, while reduce need for customer inquiries?
15) Define who your most important customers are – your key types of customers
16) Identify the key tasks they want to accomplish and then map how they can accomplish them across channels
17) Provide as much in Tier 0 – Self service where folks can find info without talking to a representative
18) Think seasonal – Certain times of year people want specific information. Prioritize. When in earthquake, show that first. When snow season coming around, highlight.

What ways can we use innovative technology to lower costs, decrease service delivery times, and improve customer experience?

19) Check out howto.gov for lots of best practice technology from GSA and search.usa.gov (for free good search)
20) Walk a mile in your customer shoes for ideas
21) Mobile is key element
22) Striking balance between interaction needs and right tools. NIH discussion on cancer probably better over phone. DMV hours people just want on website as FAQ
Any others we missed?
Stay tuned as we’ll be taking the best of this event, recent blogs and discussions, and our Customer Service Hub to release our GovLoop Guide to Customer Service

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Nathan Greenhut

Understanding customers or groups of customers is vital. There is an old saying that “Customers come first.” I have also heard that getting a good zip code in a customer’s mind is ultimately much harder than getting a bad zip code. Studying a customer’s behavior or outcomes is very related to brand equity. In government, I think the right way of saying this would be service equity. In other words, customer or citizens expectations when they enter the door to a service they have heard good things about are drastically different from services where they have not heard people having a good experience. Overall I think collecting information, case studies, dialogues, performing “mystery” customers, mapping a service and performing customer dreaming sessions are all good ways to ensure success. If you have any examples, metrics or analytics for customer experience, please post them to this group on analytics (link below) or let me know.

Analytics to Outcomes

Wendi Pomerance Brick

Thanks to GovLoop for coordinating this event! It was terrific to be part of taking another step towards breaking down our traditional government silos and share/brainstorm how to best make this EO work and effect positive change in our agencies for all customers (internal and external alike).