Better citizen experience is no longer optional
- By Chris Bauserman
- Nov 15, 2019
Government agencies are chasing an ever-rising bar of experience. As technology advances, consumers are being treated to personalized interactions that deliver meaningful value. In fact, customer experience has become is so important today that there is now a presidential mandate to ensure federal agencies are delivering the best experiences possible.
However, many agencies are struggling to keep up with the shifting priorities. Forrester’s report “The US Customer Experience Index, 2019” found that federal agencies in the Forrester Customer Experience (CX) Index earned an average score of 60 out of 100. For context, that’s the lowest among the 16 industries tracked.
With requirements in place to improve these scores, agencies must understand what exactly citizens are looking for and how to bring customer experience to life. Here are few strategies to consider:
Delivering proactive omnichannel service
Government agencies have never had more options available to them for engaging with constituents. Citizens have evolved from looking for information on government websites toward chat, text, email and other social platforms, which can be beneficial especially during times of emergency or natural disasters. Through emergency text systems, for example, local agencies can quickly deliver critical updates to keep citizens out of harm’s way. Tapping into the immediacy of these channels helps agencies deliver resources and services faster, reducing friction in the transaction and cutting citizens' wait time.
But agencies must do more than just offer these channels; the platforms must work together cohesively, retaining and transferring all of the key context and information. In fact, the NICE inContact CX Transformation Benchmark study found that 91% of consumers expect seamless transitions between channels. Consider a retiree who opens a chat session with the Department of Veterans Affairs over a question about benefits. As the conversation becomes more involved, it transitions to a phone call with a customer service representative. It’s critical that the core context and information shared in the chat conversation is retained through the transition, so the veteran doesn’t need to repeat the information on the phone. Furthermore, it’s the responsibility of the agency to identify the exact moment the transition needs to happen, as nine in 10 consumers expect the contact center to guide them to the best channel for fastest resolution.
Getting all of these channels to work together requires a free flow of data and analytics that can capture the context and make recommendations accordingly. That data can later be used by agents to glean further insights and improve the overall customer experience and by contact center managers to measure performance.
Taking advantage of the compliant cloud
Reasonably, government agencies are subject to higher regulatory standards than their private-sector counterparts. Agencies are not only responsible for sensitive data like Social Security numbers, but each might be governed by different regulations, complicating how they collaborate with each other. The Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP), for example, sets a standard for cloud products and services for agency use.
While these regulations might slow down the process of assessing and adopting new solutions, many agencies are still moving forward. FedRAMP gives experience-first cloud providers guidelines for building platforms that explicitly meet agency requirements and get ahead of citizen needs today. Being compliant and delivering best-in-class experiences for citizens are no longer mutually exclusive.
Reducing costs and investing in experience
If there’s one thing government organizations have in common, it’s the need to reduce costs and increase innovation. CIOs across the board are under tremendous pressure to cut IT expenses, while taking on new responsibilities as growth drivers.
Increasingly, the cloud is enabling agencies to meet both of these expectations. Whereas on-premises legacy systems require significant resource investment to maintain and upgrade, the cloud offers a much more flexible approach that can be tailored exactly to the agency’s needs. When agencies can pay for only the software and storage they need, they have more financial and personnel resources to invest in the citizen experience. The cloud hands IT staff the reins to experiment with new tools and benefits that can directly improve how agencies engage with their constituents.
Furthermore, cloud flexibility helps agency IT and contact center leaders alike draw a clear line between these efforts and key KPIs. Modern tools allow managers to quickly gain dashboard-level insights, so agency leaders understand better how innovation is improving citizen experience and can make a compelling case investment in the government contact center.
The future of CX
To meet citizens' needs, government agencies must consider cloud contact center deployments. As evidenced by the administration's mandate to improve citizen experience, agencies cannot afford to let the gap between citizen expectations and deliverable experiences widen. Creating seamless, proactive experiences can make a significant impact on the day-to-day lives of citizens. From the everyday needs like updates on school closures and trash collection to the life-saving news around natural disasters, the public-sector experience journey has very real consequences. But the tools to meet and exceed these expectations aren’t beyond reach. Underpinned by the right technology, such as open cloud customer experience platforms, any agency can ensure that citizens receive the exceptional experiences they know are possible.
Chris Bauserman is VP of product and segment marketing at NICE inContact.