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There’s no way to sugarcoat this – government customer experience (CX) is miles behind the private sector. When calculating customer satisfaction across major industries in 6 countries, government is the bottom-performing industry in each country.
There are many reasons for this, some of which excuse government underperformance. The public sector often has to battle limited resources, changing mandates, and flip-flopping service delivery measured outcomes. These complications often make service delivery in the public sector far more complex than in the private sector – and yet there is still much more than can be done to improve government CX.
This article will outline the major building blocks that every government agency must lay to create the groundwork for successful service delivery and begin bridging the public-private sector CX gap. Unsurprisingly, much of this groundwork begins with adopting the right technology and providing a digital-first experience.
There is no doubt about it – today’s consumers are moving away from traditional telephone support and toward digital channels. This shift has been consistently growing, and Covid-19 has accelerated it even further.
Government phone support often sees citizens frustrated by long wait times and outdated systems. Whether it’s talking to frustrating voice response software or being passed between agents, the prospect of bad phone support is enough to deter many from reaching out in the first place. Coupled with this, private sector innovation within the customer service space has grown expectations as today’s consumers enjoy fast, seamless, and convenient support wherever they are. This is piling pressure on governments to take notice and meet, or at least get closer to, these service expectations.
Today’s consumers now want to connect using live chat – 75% of survey respondents prefer it over any other channel and 73% of consumers say live chat is the most satisfying way to communicate with a business. Why? Because live chat support is faster and more efficient – everything that has been lacking in government services. And at less than 1/3 the cost of traditional phone support, live chat is an easy choice for cash-strapped government programs.
Governments must also be mindful to provide accessible solutions, and this is another area where live chat shines. WCAG compliant live chat creates new ways for citizens to reach out for government services. Thanks to interface elements that support assistive technology, providing a WCAG compliant live chat solution like Comm100 allows organizations to meet accessibility requirements and expand services to more citizens.
As governments shift to digital support, providing live chat, email, social media and even SMS, it can be difficult to handle all these channels at once. With omnichannel customer service software, this becomes a breeze. Omnichannel customer service connects every digital channel into one integrated, scalable and high-security platform. This means that no matter what channel the citizen uses to contact an agency, the message arrives within the platform and can be responded to via that same channel.
Support ubiquity benefits the citizen – they can now connect across the channel of their choosing – but it also allows support teams to more efficiently respond. Rather than juggling a variety of technologies and chat interfaces, omnichannel platforms provide a unified agent console. With a more comprehensive view of the citizen, agents can deliver more personalized, accurate and helpful support.
Connecting digital channels with an omnichannel platform also allows governments to integrate customer experience with other business systems. With a focus on improving citizen outcomes, these kinds of integrations can lead to better data for funding of expanded services. For example, reviewing reports of successful grant applicants could reveal that most successful applicants first make contact by asking questions using live chat. Understanding how and why citizens first seek services is the first step toward improving citizen engagement and improving government service delivery.
One of the universal truths of customer service is that happy customers start with happy employees. When members of a public service are disengaged, it can lead to costly errors and a poor overall experience for the citizens that they serve. One study found that disengaged workers cause as much as 60% more errors than engaged employees.
To improve employee engagement and satisfaction in government CX, it’s essential to provide agents with the right tools. Just like the citizens they serve, government employees are frustrated by phone support. Compared to a barrage of incoming phone calls by frazzled citizens, agents enjoy using live chat as it helps them to work more effectively, in turn improving the support they provide. ASEBP recognized how beneficial live chat was on their agents’ quality of work when they implemented Comm100 Live Chat:
“We have been so impressed with the positive impact that Comm100’s tools have had for our staff. Our staff love it – it’s really easy to use and makes them feel so much more confident in their role, with far less chance of error. This then trickles down onto our members who receive quicker and more accurate support and trust in us – I’m not sure what we would do without it now!” – Katherine Gaetz, Manager, Member Experience, ASEBP
Shortcut features like canned messages also improve efficiency by allowing organizations or individuals to set predefined greetings and responses to frequently asked questions. Agents benefit by eliminating repetitive typing without sacrificing the human touch offered by live agents. Citizens benefit from faster responses with less typos and spelling errors.
Co-browsing is another live chat feature that improves government customer experience for both agents and citizens. Co-browsing allows customers to share their web browser view with an agent through a single click. Using co-browsing, agents can more easily see where website visitors are having trouble, and by controlling the visitor’s screen, guide them through a process. Because privacy issues are always top of mind in government, it’s important to note that co-browsing supports citizen privacy by automatically masking sensitive data like credit cards or login details.
Recent indicators show that public trust in government is incredibly low. According to the 2022 Edelman Trust Barometer, business is more trusted than government in 23 of 28 markets. This mistrust in governments extends to privacy concerns from citizens around how information is being used. For governments to build trust with the public, they must show real care to matters of privacy and information security.
“Moving government services to the digital domain requires not only that citizens enjoy the experience—they must also believe their sensitive data is being properly used and safeguarded.” – RJ Krawiec, Principal, Deloitte US
Digitizing government services is essential, but it can also come with concerns around the potential mishandling of private information. Governments need to ensure that the digital channels, software and tools they choose to adopt have the highest security and privacy standards.
Comm100 Live Chat and Comm100 Omnichannel is built for government security needs, adhering to the highest international standards of security and privacy. Here are just some of the compliances the Comm100 software complies with:
SOC Type II– Denotes the highest degree of excellence in security, availability, processing integrity, confidentiality, and customer data privacy.
ISO 27001– The highest international standard for network security and data protection.
PCI DSS– The standard regulating payment processing to keep credit card data secure.
HIPAA– The security standard for the healthcare industry, protecting personal health information.
GDPR– The EU standard for data security, regulating the processing of personal data.
PIPEDA– Canadian federal law dictating how businesses collect, use, and disclose personal information.
Setting high standards in government service delivery relies on aligning public expectations with organizational capability. Whether it’s service speeds or anticipated resolutions to issues, citizens should be informed throughout the support process to prevent disappointment and negative perception of services. This is especially true when it comes to handling long potential waits for government services.
Long wait times for service are a challenge often faced by governments. If resources are limited, wait times may not always be avoidable, either. What can be avoided, however, is setting an unrealistic expectation that will leave citizens frustrated.
Telling a customer that they’re next in line could lead to a false impression of current waits. If every individual being assisted will need significant time for support, then being second in line could still mean a lengthy wait is ahead. Establishing the wait time in minutes instead will give citizens a much clearer expectation of how long they’ll wait.
With Comm100’s SLA policies in place across all platforms, support teams can set service goals based on response times, resolutions, and more. Established metrics for service mean that citizens don’t need to guess how long they’ll be waiting, and agents can better prioritize requests as they’re received. With better transparency to agents and citizens, SLA tracking allows government organizations to keep their promise of outstanding digital service.
Thanks to innovative new services from the private sector, customer expectations have never been higher. While this competition from the private sector creates new challenges for public sector CX, it’s also an opportunity. By introducing digital services like live chat and omnichannel customer service platforms, governments can provide citizens with the level of customer service they expect and begin to bridge the public-private sector CX gap.
To learn more about how you can begin to bridge the public-private sector CX gap, take a look at our full guide on improving customer service in government:
Find out how government & public sector can take a huge leap towards improving service delivery through secure digital channels and technologies.Read more