"Gone are the days when interacting with customers (or the public) was primarily a human experience—face to face, on the phone, in a store, or at an event." - Oracle Executive Briefing
The mobile era, where more and more people are accessing information via their smartphone or tablet, has changed how government interacts with the public, and more importantly, citizens' expectations. Similar to the private sector, citizens expect to be able to access relevant public information any time, any where and on any device. They want to communicate with government where they are- on social media channels, email etc and they want their experience, regardless of device, to be seamless and consistent.
In the private sector, customer service is essential to retaining business. In fact, according to the CEI survey, 86 percent of consumers will pay more for a better customer experience. So what does this mean for government? Despite the lack of natural competition, customer service is still important in the public sector because you want citizens to find your information and keep coming back. With recent initiatives to increase transparency in government, making content easily accessible, via the computer and mobile devices, is essential to the customer experience and reaching the goals of open government. So what does this mean? How can government improve customer service in a time with budget cuts and a million other competing priorities?
In a recent Customer Service Executive Briefing, Oracle outlines 3 key elements of Great Customer Service that can be applied to both the public and private sector. They are as follows:
Connect and engage: Ensure that the public/customers can get to you whenever, however, and wherever they desire. Create simple, consistent, and relevant experiences across all touchpoints and interactions. Tailor digital interactions based on behavior, intent, and known preferences and optimize experiences for different devices and modes of interaction.
Know more: Get as much information as you can about your customers prior to the next interaction. Having the right information at the right time improves your ability to retain customers/keep them coming back. Personalize content, messages, and offers based on real-time decisions and recommendations using analytic insights. Specifically for the public sector, it is important to create a seamless experience. Citizens think of large Federal Agencies as one entity, so it is importnat to have information up front so they are not getting different responses or repeating information.
Make it easy and rewarding: Improve efficiency and accuracy with crosschannel order orchestration and fulfillment. Enable “anywhere, anytime” interactions with intelligent self-service and at-the-point-of-need assistance. Proactively engage customers directly in social networks and use that information to improve services.
For government, it is important to understand what citizens want and what they expect from their interaction with your agency. We all know when we have a great customer experience and likewise, a bad one, but it is sometimes difficult to articulate what made the difference. Was in the friendly employees? The ability to answer your questions accurately and quickly? In the same Oracle briefing, they discuss the five key qualities that customers value in a great experience (taken from some of the best in the world like Amazon, Starbucks, Cosco, etc). They are:
- Consistent voice
- Connected interactions
- Personalized journey
- Efficient service
- Rewarding relationships
These 5 elements are the tip fo the iceberg when it comes to creating great customer experiences in government, but they are a good start. Be sure to check out the full Executive Briefing here for more information, which also includes information on the Customer Journey Lifecycle.
What else would you add to the list? Think of some of the best experiences you had (private or public sector). What made the difference and how can government agencies replicate that experience?
More Customer Service Resources:
Online Training: Customer Service in Government- Real World Case Studies
Oracle offers an optimized and fully integrated stack of business hardware and software systems that helps organizations overcome complexity and unleash innovation.. Check out their Optimize with Oracle group on GovLoop as well as the Technology Sub-Community of which they are a council member.