Government agencies are adopting customer service best practices that have been tested and honed over the past several years by commercial brands and are utilizing them to quickly level up to even the most demanding customers’ service and support expectations. Improved information delivery and better communication across more and new channels are finally loosening the grip on the public’s perception that they have to fight through red tape to get service. Here are four commercial best practices that are increasingly being used by government agencies to deliver more effective and efficient engagement:
1. Using a knowledgebase to deliver consistent self-serve information across channels. For the second year in a row, American satisfaction with services provided by the federal government has increased, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index, spurred by more and better information available online.
“Looking at the key factors that drive citizen satisfaction, the federal government has improved its marks for ease and efficiency of processes, customer service and information delivery,” says Claes Fornell, ACSI founder. “The most improved area for government, however, is website quality. Better government websites, coupled with more people making use of them, has contributed to higher levels of citizen satisfaction.”
Over the past two years, many federal agencies have put a strong focus on improving online information and the online experience. It appears to be paying off. The government’s new information-centric approach has turned many sites from a government-speak online data dump into an organized information and resource center. Agencies are now writing for the customer instead of for each other, and making their news, information, policies and forms accessible 365/24/7 through online portals with self-service knowledgebases that convey to social media and other mass communication tools.
2. Giving service and support agents equal or better knowledgebase access. The same knowledgebases that are serving the public are also being used internally to train and equip government staff with the information and best practices they need to better serve citizens. In addition, this shared online knowledge is providing greater consistency when it comes to answer and information delivery.
The use of both public and internal-facing knowledgebases is a best practice taken straight from commercial best-in-class service providers, the majority of which provide their customer service agents with access to a resolution knowledgebase. According to a global consumer study commissioned by NICE, one third of respondents report high customer satisfaction after interacting with knowledgeable service representatives.
3. Gathering direct and indirect feedback. Just like commercial customer service leaders including Amazon.com and Virgin Atlantic, many government agencies are beginning to collect post-interaction feedback both directly via survey tools and indirectly via social media commentary.
Think feedback simply opens the door for more complaints? The following might change your mind: an Aberdeen Group benchmark report revealed that best-in-class companies are eight times more likely to increase customer satisfaction and 26 times more likely to increase customer retention than average ones because they maintain better customer relationships through customer feedback.
4. Embracing and integrating new service channels including social and mobile. Stories about long lines and outrageous telephone hold wait times have plagued many well-known government agencies for decades. In addition to delivering better service and information on their websites, early adopters of social and mobile are receiving positive praise for their efforts to engage the public on their terms and at their convenience.
Uses for social media include not only improving government-to-consumer communication and information delivery, but also soliciting public feedback, responding to questions one-to-many verses one-to-one, providing real-time crisis communication, and monitoring and responding to social conversations related to the agency and its reputation.
“Social media is now being harnessed within government to not only connect and share with constituents but also to help perform core services better, faster and in a way that incorporates the web-based and real-time functionality of social media,” says a recent Fels Institute of Government Rise of Social Government report.
Making an even bigger impact is mobile. According to a recent Gartner report, mobile tops the government’s IT spending priorities.
The government’s collective priority is right on track as the IDC’s Worldwide New Media Market Model (NMMM) Forecast predicts that more people in the United States will access the web via mobile devices than via wireline computers by 2015, according to the forecast.
Mobile is an important factor, especially for those agencies developing strategies to accommodate a large offsite, work-from-home or BYOD staff. In turn, increased mobile technologies are a must to accommodate the public who demands a more connected, easier-to-access government. A prime example of an agency embracing mobile delivery is Business.USA.gov.
What other commercial customer service best practices have you seen government agencies adopting? We welcome your comments below.
Read more: Government Employees Per Capita Report
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