This blog post is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent guide, “Tips to Address 6 Common Pain Points in Service Delivery.”
It’s no secret that government has a hard time delivering customer service at the same level and quality as the private sector. One particular hindrance? Organizational structure. Many agencies have a number of different departments, contact centers and help desks providing individual services to citizens, with little relationship to one another and the larger agency. Such silos make it difficult to create seamless interactions with citizens.
In an interview with GovLoop, Abby Herriman, Chief Strategy Officer at HighPoint Global, a citizen experience company, discussed the importance of embedding customer service into government processes and how agencies can work to deliver seamless services through the “Golden Standard” of customer service.
HighPoint Global works to help government agencies improve the citizen experience by focusing on each individual agency-to-citizen interaction. “At the heart of good customer service is the people who provide the service. They have to understand the perspective of their citizens,” Herriman said. “But it’s hard to walk in the customer’s shoes if you don’t have access to them.”
“The concept of the ’Golden Standard’ is really about having a mission, a vision and a set of values around customer service,” Herriman said. To achieve the Golden Standard of customer service, every employee, regardless of job title or level, has to understand their connection to the citizen. This means agency leadership should have the same level of understanding of citizen needs as service representatives and those on the frontlines who are actually interacting with citizens on a daily basis.
That understanding is crucial to improving service levels. “Once you start to embed customer service into the foundation of every process in an agency, it becomes clear how everybody’s connected to the citizen,” Herriman said. “What you’ll see is an increase in employee engagement and you’ll start to see them make decisions based on what’s in the best interest of the citizen.”
How can agencies start embedding customer service more to strive for the Golden Standard? The answer lies in an omnichannel approach to customer service.
Right now, government uses a multichannel approach to interact with citizens. Agencies are providing the opportunity for citizens to reach out via multiple communication channels, such as email, a website, social media, or in-person. But having a multichannel approach isn’t enough if agencies don’t have a central data hub to process information flowing into these various communication channels.
An omnichannel approach, on the other hand, facilitates connectedness at the front and back ends of customer service. Customer data is centralized, so that no matter how many different interactions or “touchpoints” a citizen has with an agency, everyone is aware of the citizen’s past interactions, her needs and how best to approach her problem.
“With this kind of seamless customer service, agencies have an opportunity to do some predictive analytics,” Herriman said. “They can make pretty good guesses about who’s going to contact them next, what they’re contacting the agency about and what their resolution is going to be.”
To help agencies adopt an omnichannel approach, and elevate to a Golden Standard of customer service, HighPoint offers a Citizen Experience (CX) Maturity Model for government, based on customer service maturity models in the private sector. CX is the holistic perception created by the citizens’ every direct and indirect interaction with government. With the maturity model agencies can track where they stand in terms of customer experience maturity. For example, an agency may initially only have a limited understanding of its citizens as customers, or may be more advanced and be ready to integrate its services more.
The HighPoint CX Maturity Model is tailored to the unique types of relationships that exist between citizens and the government that serves them. It focuses specifically on people, process, technology, analytics and reporting to inform what communication channels should be used to address customer needs.
Ultimately, the Golden Standard of customer service, for government, is about delivering citizen services in a personalized and efficient manner. Using the Citizen Experience Maturity Model and an omnichannel approach, your agency can better track its level of customer service delivery and determine what strategies should be implemented to improve. Herriman concluded, “It’s about making sure you understand the people you’re serving and ensuring you’ve got the right communication channel opened and optimized just for them.”