call center (Epifantsev/Shutterstock.com)

Online self-service changes citizens’ call center experience

For many citizens, call centers are often the face of government, so agencies must keep an eye on user satisfaction as they upgrade call center technologies. The CFI Group’s Government Contact Center Satisfaction Index pegs that satisfaction at 68 on a 100-point scale.

User satisfaction with government call centers has made gains over the last few years while declining for private-sector call centers, but satisfaction varies widely by department. Call centers for the Social Security Administration and the Centers for Medicare/Medicaid Services were up a few points over last year. Other departments, however, saw a decline in contact center satisfaction, with the Department of Education and the IRS down four points and the Department of Veterans Affairs down two.

The report found that not all citizen inquiries are going to call centers. About 37 percent of people are going online via computer to find help before turning to the call center, about 20 percent use a mobile device and 5 percent have tried the agency’s mobile app to try to resolve the issue prior to calling for assistance.  CFI said it found that satisfaction with government websites “dramatically” improved in the past year, indicating citizens are finding what they’re looking for online.

“For government contact centers, the implications are that those who contact the contact center now tend to have more complex issues that cannot be handled online or through the app, making the average inquiry more difficult to handle,” the new report said.

Call center experiences that involved interactive voice response – automated phone systems – instead of a representative were less satisfying. The highest for experiences were those in which a representative answers the phone, followed by those where an automated system led to a representative. Fully automated calls showed the lowest satisfaction, possibly because of the time and effort required to get through IVR systems, the report suggested.  

Some government call centers are experimenting with self-service bots  that can answer simple, frequently asked questions. Mesa, Ariz., recently started using a system that allows citizens to text questions and check utility bills; the chatbot uses Aspect’s CXP platform and natural language Interactive Text Response. The General Services Administration’s Emerging Citizen Technology Program Office is also looking the potential for bots, especially to answer the more common  questions that come into call centers.

Read CFI’s full report here.

About the Author

Matt Leonard is a reporter/producer at GCN.

Before joining GCN, Leonard worked as a local reporter for The Smithfield Times in southeastern Virginia. In his time there he wrote about town council meetings, local crime and what to do if a beaver dam floods your back yard. Over the last few years, he has spent time at The Commonwealth Times, The Denver Post and WTVR-CBS 6. He is a graduate of Virginia Commonwealth University, where he received the faculty award for print and online journalism.

Leonard can be contacted at mleonard@gcn.com or follow him on Twitter @Matt_Lnrd.

Click here for previous articles by Leonard.


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