This post contains excerpts from GovLoop's recent research brief, Making a Business Case for Customer Experience in Government.
Improving customer experience (CX) is more important than ever. According to a recent Forrester report, as much as 72 percent of businesses say that improving customer experience is their top priority. Studies indicate that organizations stand to lose more than $62 billion due to poor customer service. And recently, Forbes predicted that, for customers, value and experience will continue to outweigh price when they make decisions about service.
While government wants to meet citizens’ expectations for the ideal customer experiences, there are many challenges that stand in the way. Budget constraints and lack of the necessary digital tools are some of the primary hindrances to enhancing CX. Additionally, many agencies lack the right metrics to understand how they’re really performing and how to improve processes.
So how can government overcome these challenges, and how can employees make a strong case for better CX?
Government needs to look past single solutions that promise faster processing times or increased productivity. Instead, agencies must holistically rethink their entire organizational culture, including strategies and solutions, for transformative CX change.
A common mistake agencies make is prioritizing more obvious metrics like productivity, cost savings or volume of requests. These metrics may seem easier to track and make a better business case for enhancing CX. But CX metrics need to focus on customer satisfaction outcomes and addressing user needs.
“It begins with having a clearly defined vision or a common message,” said Jodi Thompson, Senior Principal Strategic Business Consultant for Genesys. “If you want to reduce effort and improve productivity, you may have to look at your setup and how services are configured. In a service environment, it’s often processing productivity versus outcome. But rather than getting off the phone as quickly as possible to process more calls, an individual could spend the extra five minutes with someone and resolve the issue. What is the outcome you’re trying to achieve rather than on-time, on-budget?”
Once organizations have created customer-focused goals, leaders need to be prepared to invest in CX for the long haul if they seek to really make improvements. “What you’re really talking about in achieving a new set of standards is organizational change,” Thompson said. “It’s about the long-term adoption view versus the implementation of a standalone solution.”
One way for agencies to start improving metrics is by measuring individual interactions with citizens, rather than cumulative productivity output. For example, if a citizen contacts a call center, agencies should measure the citizen effort made to resolve their issue. Was the issue addressed with one simple call? Or did the citizen have to call back repeatedly to finally get his or her request addressed? These factors can make all the difference with customer outcomes and save agencies time and costs.
“Service centers are historically viewed as necessary cost-control centers,” Thompson said. “But they’re actually strategic front doors. Your contact centers, voice channels and web channels are the customer front door. But people are not looking at it as an opportunity to change the conversation and take the extra time. They feel like service centers are just for cutting costs. But this is one of the most overlooked areas to reduce overall cost and effort.”
To get agencies started on employing their service centers more strategically, creating a vision and investing in holistic solutions that empower employees, Thompson recommended these steps:
Seek private-sector help to achieve that strategic vision
Many private-sector entities already have sophisticated metrics in place for measuring CX outcomes. Partnering with industry can help agencies get a better grasp of their current state and envision desired outcomes.
Organizations like Genesys provide strategic business consulting services, including CX assessments, education, workshops or assistance creating financial business case ROIs.
Create staff capacity with proactive notifications
Too often, agency personnel are simply reacting to a citizen’s request. Instead, agencies should invest in solutions that keep relevant information readily available to staff so they can quickly or even automatically reach out to citizens to address a concern, such as status updates.
Apply a CX Maturity Model
A customer experience maturity model can help agencies establish where they are and where they want to go. Genesys’ CX maturity model has four phases that help agencies identify where to start and how to establish a proper metrics system.
Reduce inbound volume by creating self-services
Help citizens meet their needs on their own while lightening workloads on personnel. Automated voice channels can help citizens identify appropriate services and address issues without unnecessarily consuming staff time.
For example, an automated voice system can identify who is calling, anticipate what they want and offer relevant options for quickly getting the right information or completing a transaction. This helps offload the effort on the part of citizens, saves time for employees and reduces costs for the agency.
Check out the full research brief, here.