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A Time for Change

These are unprecedented times of pressure for government agencies, forced to reduce spending and to cut budgets, while at the same time being asked to provide citizens with exceptional levels of customer service. The Executive Order on Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service calls for executive departments and agencies to use technology to improve the customer experience across multiple service channels (web, chat, mobile, phone, etc) by adopting proven best practices to reduce costs and increase service delivery times.

During the recent GovLoop Symposium, How to Meet the Customer Service Mandate we heard from federal managers that are keenly aware of this responsibility to provide services, answers and direction to citizens. A consistent theme during the discussion focused on the fact that as technology has advanced, these communication channels have expanded beyond just phone calls. Today we live in a multi-channel world– mobile, Facebook, Twitter, chat and email are just a few of the options that customers use to communicate with both government and business. With this expansion, many agencies have seen a double, or even a threefold, increase in the number of service inquiries. Unfortunately, this swell in the demand for customer service has come at a time when there is much uncertainty regarding future spending. The motto of doing more with less is now standard operating procedure.

For example, the Social Security Agency receives millions of inquiries regarding benefits every year, and the US Forest Service receives an average of 25,000 inbound calls every month. These are just two examples of the types of customer service demands that are being placed on government agencies. For most, technology solutions can help provide improved levels of customer service. However, without a compelling ROI strategy, most agencies will not move forward with these solutions.

Fortunately, there are innovative technology solutions available to help government lower costs, decrease service delivery times and optimize the customer experience. For example, organizations are offering more self service access to information and services both online and via phone channels, freeing up staff to focus efforts on more complex questions and research. Another opportunity is for organizations to leverage customer experience solutions that are offered via the cloud. Cloud computing provides organizations many benefits including the ability to test and pilot solutions at a minimal investment before committing to a full implementation.

Organizations leveraging similar solutions are able to:

  • Increase self-service up to 98%
  • Reduce inbound email by 30 – 70%
  • Reduce inbound calls by 10 – 30%
  • Cut costs but 10-30%
  • Improve employee productivity by up to 20%

In the case of the Social Security Administration, a customer experience solution platform has enabled the agency to deliver, via the web, over 35 million answers to customer inquiries without additional IT infrastructure. Results like these are what customers require in difficult financial times.

What are your agency’s customer service pain points?

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