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Omnichannel Customer Service Helps Agencies Adapt to New Demands

An interview with Kate Boronkay, Marketing Manager, Public Sector, Zendesk

During the last two years, government agencies have proven they can deliver digital services at speed. Now comes the hard part: keeping pace with constituents who’ve loved what they’ve seen and are looking for more.

The problem is that the surge in demand is happening when agencies are dealing with budget constraints and worker shortages.

“Agency leaders are overwhelmingly concerned with how to scale support and services as constituent needs are growing, and expectations are evolving,” said Kate Boronkay of Zendesk, which provides customer service and engagement solutions designed to help public-serving organizations understand their constituents, improve communication and offer support where and when it’s needed most.

Managing Multiple Channels

Scale is an issue because digital services involve multiple channels, including the phone, video chat, bots, messaging apps, self-service apps and others, as well as traditional in-person services.

If these services are managed individually, customer service turns into a juggling act, leading to miscommunication and confusion. To scale up their services, agencies need to create a seamless customer service environment.

That’s the value of an omnichannel platform, Boronkay said. It enables convenient, continuous conversations across all channels.

A Study in Complexity

Zendesk has helped the Georgia Housing Voucher Program (GHVP) adopt an omnichannel approach to customer service. GHVP is a $24 million state- funded program providing permanent supportive housing for individuals with psychiatric disabilities who are experiencing homelessness. GHVP works with 1,800 individuals, 1,000-plus landlords or properties and 30 behavioral health providers.

“All these moving parts make for a very complex program that depends on careful coordination and essential, time-sensitive communication,” Boronkay said.

Prior to adopting Zendesk, GHVP relied on email and shared inboxes to manage these demands, making for a chaotic communication environment that was vulnerable to frequent errors and lacked transparency. Program officials needed a solution that was cost-effective, easily deployable and adaptable for future uses.

In 2020, GHVP partnered with Zendesk to streamline and centralize its communications as well as support employees and agencies across the state. GHVP has made the Zendesk platform the go-to resource for GHVP providers and state employees, using it to centralize all relevant information for providers to access easily with one click.

More Engagement, More Trust

Boronkay highlighted three key outcomes to an omnichannel approach:

For agencies, it helps them meet the need (or, in the case of federal agencies, the mandate) for a modern, streamlined and responsive customer experience, in line with what’s found in the private sector. For constituents, a better customer experience leads to higher constituent engagement, which builds trust and loyalty.

And for employees, it increases productivity and engagement — which in turn makes it easier for agencies to attract and retain talent.

“Seamless, omnichannel support is a building block for digital government,” Boronkay said. “By transitioning to a modern omnichannel solution, agencies can reduce customer effort, improve agent productivity and ensure mission continuity.”

This article first appeared in “Your Guide to Becoming an Adaptive Agency,” from GovLoop. For more insights on embracing agility, download it here.

Image by Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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