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Let’s face it, it’s a huge challenge for government to provide an exceptional citizen experience to such a large and diverse customer base, the American people!
Yes, it’s a challenge, but we are also reminded that it is a priority, and not just for agency managers, but also for the President as referenced in the Executive Order- Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service. More recently, OMB released a follow-up guidance memo to the Executive Order that exclusively targets federal websites with the goal of reducing duplication and waste. The memo puts a halt on the development of any new websites and hopes to eliminate half over the next year. As a result, Federal managers need to implement programs now that will streamline the clutter of more than 20,000 federal websites and deliver services better, faster and at a lower cost to the American public.
Check out the White House blog post, TooManyWebsites.gov for the full run down on OMB’s key provisions targeting federal websites, but here are the major highlights:
- No agency can stand up a new website without a written waiver from the federal CIO.
- There are nearly 2,000 top-level federal .gov domains. This includes WhiteHouse.gov, as well as others like USDA.gov, USASpending.gov, NOAA.gov and USA.gov. Under many of these domains are smaller sub-sites and micro-sites—resulting in an estimated 24,000 websites of varying purpose, design, navigation, usability and accessibility.
- Agencies are directed to focus efforts on current infrastructure, adding content and functionality to existing websites.
- To understand what’s working, and what isn’t, managers must report on every active agency URL. In the next 30 days, a list of all registered .gov domains will be published so the public can offer feedback.
To address this phenomenon, here is a list of some tips to help government agencies make the most of their current websites.
- Cross Channel Consistency: Seek out industry best practice guidance to optimize web interfaces and maximize the customer experience. Here are a few to get you started:
Improve your Knowledge Base and Search capabilities using the procedures outlined in this best practices guide.
User Experience Best Practices For Web Self-Service
Use these best practices to create the best possible web self-service experiences.
These guides take advantage of cross channel optimization to ensure that content, information and services are consistently delivered when (not if) customers engage via the web, then the phone, then on social networks, then on mobile platforms—because they will engage in all of these channels at some point depending on their requirements. These best practices have helped organizations achieve self-service rates of 99%, 30% reduction in call volumes, 50% reduction in email volumes and a 30% reduction in overall costs. Wow!
- Solicit Feedback: Survey citizens regularly to identify what information and services are most helpful and which are not as helpful. This real time feedback allows organizations to concentrate resources on further developing content, information and services that is most relevant, timely and useful to citizens. Feedback helps ensure that the right information is available at the right time to the right audience.
- Measure Website Performance: Take the time to understand and gain insight across customer touch points by measuring web performance and identifying where to concentrate improvements to the overall web experience.
I think we all understand that the federal government doesn’t need thousands of websites, but what is needed isn’t as clear, but hopefully this feedback will help.