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The First Step Toward Better Contact Centers

It’s tough out there for government agencies providing service for citizens today. When citizens engage with government, they expect the same high level of customer service they receive from the private sector. Whether they have questions or need to conduct transactions, citizens want government to provide a quick and easy resolution.

Citizens also want to communicate with government through the channels they find most convenient, whether that is in person, over the phone or online – like email or even a self-service web portal. And once a citizen requests service, he or she wants a simple way to track the progress of the government’s response.

Many agencies do this through contact centers – centers that field incoming support or information inquiries from citizens.

But in today’s current environment, most government agencies’ contact centers don’t have the modern tools necessary to meet these demands. They are often working with technology and processes that are outdated, hinder information sharing and prevent simple access for citizens.

Contact center modernization should be a priority for all government agencies. It generates greater citizen satisfaction, increased employee engagement and cost savings.

Yet while nearly all agency leaders know they need to improve their customer experience (or CX), many leaders get stuck on where exactly to start and what they want the journey to look like.

That’s why defining the vision of what you want contact center modernization to look like must be your first step. Here’s how you can do that:

First, get input from internal stakeholders, including leadership, frontline employees with innovative ideas and an understanding of the citizens they serve. If you have a multi-agency contact center, you’ll want to work with other agency leaders as well.

Find out what services you want to provide, what citizen pain points are and what outcomes you want to achieve through modernization.

Also, be sure you understand the citizen’s journey. What process does a citizen go through today when engaging with government via interactive voice response (IVR), live conversation, e-mail, web forms and any other channels you offer? Where are the pain points? What changes could you make to improve the interaction?

Once you have collected and analyzed this data, use it to create a picture of the improved customer service experience you want to provide. For example, the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles created a customer journey map to achieve this goal.

Putting themselves in the consumer’s shoes, Bureau staff scrutinized each element of the experience, noting the ones that were bothersome or unhelpful. Based on their findings, the Bureau cut the recording on its IVR from two and a half minutes of introduction, with several menu choices, to less than 20 seconds, with just a few menu choices and a quick path for reaching a human associate.

Because the system is easier to navigate and offers routes for self-service, fewer customers need to speak to an associate. Associates used to handle about two million calls a year. In 2018, they handled 1.5 million calls.

This first exercise is critical for contact center modernization. However, there are two more important steps in modernizing your contact center. To learn what those steps entail and how to fully modernize, check out our recent course: 3 Steps to Modernizing the Government Contact Center.

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Nya Jackson

The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles was a great example of small ways you can improve customer service. Half of the time I just press 0 to speak with an associate because the self-service menu is too long. So shortening it would definitely encourage me to use it more.