As marketplace competition heightens across the globe, providing the highest quality of customer experience becomes an utmost priority not only in the private sector but also among government agencies. At this point, however, government institutions still have much to learn in this area. A 2016 McKinsey consulting survey reports that state and federal government agencies only ranked last among the 11 industries studied, in terms of providing total customer experience (click here for details).
Customer experience is more than just “getting the job done” and reaches far beyond a single transaction. This concept refers to the total level of satisfaction that one experiences from day one – it does not end after the first sale. However, the state and federal governments may not be as focused on sales in the same sense that Starbucks or Disney is. Does that mean that the customer experience is a low priority? Absolutely not!
So, how does the customer experience benefit the government sector? Providing high-quality customer experience bolsters awareness and patronage of government services among American citizens, thereby allowing these to be rendered to more individuals. In the government, this translates to fast and convenient document processing and accurate and immediate response to queries coupled with a sense of sympathy and care. Let’s take a look at how the government sector currently handles the customer experience.
Anticipating Your Citizens’ Needs
A contact center that provides premium customer experience, regardless of the industry, intimately knows their clients’ needs. For government call centers that do this well, they are able to anticipate the queries of their citizens and address this with sympathy in the most efficient way. One effective way of achieving this is through call segmentation. This is practiced by the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. In their contact center website, client queries are already segmented, thus allowing customers to readily identify the service they need. Instructions on follow-up are also given both by the website and their agents. This prevents confusion from the client’s end and facilitates convenient follow-up. This also prevents seemingly endless call transfers which are irritating.
Aside from segmenting queries and concerns, a customer-oriented government contact center also makes themselves readily available 24/7. Both the USCIS and the National Passport Information Center opens their lines 24 hours on any given day. Despite this, they also suggest in their websites the best time to call their agencies so that a greater pool of experts can respond to client needs. This allows customers to schedule their calls accordingly and avoid the hassle of having to contact the agency again and again.
For some, a one-stop shop contact center also proves to be helpful; having this allows customers to jot down or memorize only one phone number instead of keeping a long list of contact information. To this end, USA.gov was created as a customer experience solution to general government queries. If one were not sure of what government agency to contact, he or she can simply dial the website’s toll free number, and their friendly agents will be the ones to connect him or her to the agency that can best address the concern.
Let’s Get Personal
While efficiency and a strong knowledge base are requisites to a satisfying customer experience, no call center transaction would ever be complete without a human touch. To this end, personalization is ever an important key in providing the complete customer satisfaction.
To meet this need, agents have to be trained to greet their clients and introduce themselves, express sincerest apologies in case of inconveniences (e.g., “I am sorry to hear that, Ma’am…), inject a bit of small talk (e.g. “Oh, you’re visiting Florida. Nice choice for a vacation spot), and genuinely bid clients a great day ahead. Aside from accomplishing very specific government transactions, clients also do have affective needs to fill, and these can be met by genuine remarks of sympathy and care.
Abraham Lincoln once said that the American government is “by the people, of the people, and for the people”. As this government continues to thrive in the twenty-first century, it should never forget the ideals of service it is committed to. Giving the government agencies’ citizens a total and memorable customer experience is one concrete way of doing just this.
If you are a government contact center or an agency looking at ways to improve customer experience. You are at the right place. Just drop me a line by clicking here so that I can learn more about your business.