Government agencies at all levels have gotten the message loud and clear: Constituents want to access services and communicate with government digitally, through a variety of channels – phone, email, video, chat or text. But while agencies across the board have initiatives in place to give constituents what they want, the events of the past two years have made things even more complicated. Providing that omni-channel experience today in a professional setting, without babies crying or dogs barking in the background, requires reliable, secure technology that people can trust.
It all comes down to trust, says James Greene, Business Development Manager for the Public Sector at Jabra.
“Constituents are more likely to trust when they know that they have been heard, and heard correctly,” he says. “If the agent has to repeat the constituent’s question or concern, or if the constituent hears background noises other than typical office noises, they will trust the process less.”
One of the most effective ways to manage citizen omni-channel communications is through unified communications platforms, like those from Microsoft, Cisco and Zoom. These platforms allow participants to choose from and switch between a variety of communication methods in real time, consolidating these communications through a common interface. Through its presence features, unified communications platforms can speed the resolution of constituent requests by quickly finding the staff member who knows the answer to the question.
Another effective constituent engagement method is the contact center. Contact center software combines multiple digital channels with intelligent routing and workforce optimization and customer profiles. Contact centers remain an important way for government to communicate with constituents. The General Services Administration’s Contact Center of Excellence, for example, aims to improve contact center delivery services and customer interactions.
No matter the technology, the key to constituent engagement is fostering trust. And one of the keys to trust is clear communication. One way to help ensure that is by relying on headsets that are comfortable to wear all day and filter out all background noises, leaving only the sound of whoever is speaking at the time. This way, contact center agents can hear clearly what is being said and respond appropriately. Constituents will know they are being heard and understood.
The Housing and Urban Development Department (HUD), for example, has outfitted its contact center agents with noise-canceling Jabra headsets to manage its omnichannel communications.
Some headsets are so advanced that they can identify the tone and tenor of a conversation. In a contact center environment, for example, this would allow a supervisor to quickly detect an escalating situation between an agent and constituent. This might prompt the supervisor to provide more training for the agent, since constituents are more likely to trust agents who remain calm and professional. Supervisors also can use the information they gather to better coach and motivate their agents.
In situations where security is critical, agencies also might consider adding a “push to talk” option to their constituent communications. With this feature, agents can transmit their voice only when pressing a button on their controller. This is often a requirement in sensitive environments. The Defense Department, for example, often requires that agencies using unified communications software to conduct conversations must have a push-to-talk feature. That means that the only way to communicate is by pressing a button. When the user releases the button, the line immediately becomes muted.
“Engaged constituents are satisfied constituents, so it’s really about how agencies can build better experiences for citizens,” Greene says. “Having the right tools and devices can help agencies deliver truly outstanding service to citizens, and help government employees work more effectively and productively.”