10 Ways Government Can Re-Imagine Customer Service

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Nearly one year ago, President Obama released his Executive Order mandating agencies to improve their customer service initiatives. Since the mandate, agencies have made great strides improving customer service in government. This morning, Oracle sponsored an event in partnership with GovLoop titled, “Re-Imagining Customer Service in Government.”

The event is part of our GovLoop Conversations series, which has a unique format that encourages participation from attendees. Our experts sit at tables amongst the attendees and serve as facilitators to a larger discussion. This morning, our speakers included:

  • Joey Hutcherson, Deputy Director of Open Government, Office of the Secretary, Department of Commerce
  • Abraham Marinez, Customer Engagement Advisor, Department of Education
  • Bruce Marsh, Director, Office of Inspector General Risk Analysis Research Center, USPS
  • Scott Frendt: Vice President, Public Sector CRM Solutions, Oracle
  • Moderator: Chris Dorobek

There was a great discussion at the event, and below are my top 10 take aways from the event this morning.

Budget Constraints
This has been on the most pressing themes across government – the charge of doing more with less and working to improve customer service. Throughout the event, open government came up and the connection between customer service and open government initiatives became clear.

Think Outside the Box
Many participants and our speakers identified that in order to improve customer service in government, agencies will need to think creatively how they are providing services. There is no easy or quick fix, and things can change very quickly.

Identifying Agency Customers
There was an interesting conversation that identified the difference between internal and external agency customers. To provide an early sneak peek at our research study, this was one of the findings as well. Participants commented that in order to provide customer service, agency leaders need to view their internal and external customers.

Share Resources
This was another finding from the event was the importance of sharing information across the agency, sharing best practices and working across government to improve customer service.

Listen to Customers
The discussion this morning also included advice to be sure you are listening to customers and incorporating their feedback to improve customer service. This involves having a two-way discussion, on whatever channel you may be using.

Develop a Culture of Customer Service
Culture was touched on a few times throughout the discussion. One of the themes was agencies need to “develop a culture of customer service.” This was a fascinating discussion, but agencies need to have support from all levels within the agency to improve how customer service is delivered in government.

Like many areas across government panelist mentioned that mobile is game changing for customer service. In particular, citizens expect to be able to access certain services on their mobile devices, participants stated that this adds pressure on the agency to deliver customer service through the right channels.

Data and analytics were touched on this morning, and the need for data to be used to help improve how agencies are making decisions based on customer service.

Another result was a great discussion on how training has been used to improve customer service within government. Participants provided a few examples how they have required training for employees and they are considering using customers service as part of their performance evaluations.

One interesting insight was how there is little competition in the federal government in how they deliver customer service. Without a clear competitor, it is important to tie customer service to a business objective and tie into the mission of the agency.

More findings will be released in our “Re-Imagining Customer Service Research Brief,” the research report includes interviews from 8 government employees, findings from our recent customer service survey and insights from the customer service roundtable that was held this morning. Be sure to keep an eye out on the report, which will be released in the first week of June.

Oracle offers an optimized and fully integrated stack of business hardware and software systems that helps organizations overcome complexity and unleash innovation.. Check out their Optimize with Oracle group on GovLoop as well as the Technology Sub-Community of which they are a council member.