Five steps to transform service at your agency

Social media has quickened the speed of communication to a breakneck pace, and altered citizens’ expectations in terms of speed of response. For example, if I wrote an organization a letter, I would factor in a few days for it to get there, and several more days to be answered. However, if I posted a comment on Facebook, I would expect to receive feedback in a few hours, given how quickly everything moves. For this reason, many people are bypassing the telephone or fax machine in favor of Twitter and Facebook because they are already on those sites.

Social media presents challenges for government agencies’ customer service strategies, namely the volume of inquiries, necessity for timeliness, and strict policies. However, social media also allows government agencies and the public to have an informal, two- way dialogue, an essential part of becoming more transparent and collaborative in the mobile era. So how do you deal with these changes to put your best foot forward and transform service? Salesforce has a great whitepaper, “Meet Customers Where They Are: Incorporating Social Media into Your Customer Service Strategy,” that gets at this very subject. I’ve listed below the top five steps to transform service at your agency:

  1. Define Goals and Align with Business Objectives- Tie your metrics to your mission, establish goals early and know what a “win” is before you launch into a new customer service strategy.
  2. Develop a Social Media Strategy- Outline how your organization will use social media channels like Facebook and LinkedIn to foster relationships, become more transparent, and collaborative.
  3. Start Listening Where Your Customers are Talking- Where are the mentions of your organization and what are the most common words associated with your agency? (Helpful? Terrible? Fail?)
  4. Create an Engagement Playbook- For consistency purposes, it is best to have a playbook for agents so they know the proper way to respond to inquiries (language, timing, public vs. private). This will help you avoid more than one employee answering a customer or even worse, ignoring it.
  5. Measure What Matters- It’s important to measure what your agency truly cares about. Whether that be citizen engagement, timeliness to inquiries, or the number of people coming back to your website.

We know social media is changing organizations’ customer service strategies and we know important steps to take to improve your customer service. But perhaps the most important piece of the puzzle is the infrastructure you have in place to get it done without overhauling your entire organization. In a 2012 LinkedIn survey, in which nearly 900 customer service professionals participated, 33% of respondents said “outdated and clunky systems” were the biggest challenge facing their company’s customer service teams. Implementing the right technology can streamline your processes, enhance agent productivity, and deliver improved customer service. For this reason, many organizations are turning to CRM tools such as Salesforce’s Service Cloud for Government.

Service Cloud in many ways is a win-win for government: constituents are better informed and satisfied with their service, and customer service agents jobs are made easier. I encourage you to check out more information on Service Cloud for Government here. You can download case studies and watch a demo of other examples of government agencies using CRM to transform how they deliver service to citizens in the mobile world.

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Joshua Millsapps

Service cloud has a lot of things to recommend it. As do apps built on the platform. They cut development time, reduce spend and are secure. What more do you want?

Dave Hebert

A very nice list, Amy — and what if we turned this model inward to provide better customer service to our own employees? Social media, chat tools, centralized FAQ repositories and A-Z indexes, enabling HR, admin, and other gov’t pros to help their colleagues faster and more effectively. Just something I’ve been pondering …