Aged infrastructure, low productivity, and inadequate efficiency performance standards dominate too many government contact centers. Limited technology budgets play a big role in these deficits, creating an expertise gap that keeps these contact centers from taking advantage of improved tools and processes.
Meanwhile, constituents expect more and more: They want easy access to resources and services, and they want to make it happen within whatever engagement channel they prefer. Add to that the fact that most government agencies are dealing with an overwhelming increase in need for services, and the problem gets even more complex—and urgent. But not insurmountable.
Finding a way through the challenge
Bad news travels fast, and none of it faster than negative reviews from dissatisfied customers. Long waits and ineffective service don’t just get passed by word of mouth but get very public attention from news media, creating a public relations pitfall for well-intentioned agencies struggling to keep up amid extremely challenging circumstances.
Unfortunately, the situation isn’t one solved by a simple technology shift, although technology plays an important role in the solution. You can’t just throw a monitoring system or workforce management tool at the issue and expect transformation. A solution that addresses the issues contact centers face now and sets them up for the future requires a shift in strategy that addresses processes and management challenges unique to contact center administration.
Steps toward better efficiency and effectiveness
Tools go underutilized if they’re integrated without first having a clear sense of what stakeholders want and how technology fits into the bigger picture of connecting constituents to services. We’ve helped numerous agencies implement class-leading contact center solutions, develop efficient self-service functionality, assisted with helpdesk services, and provided oversight of contact center operations. We’ve learned a few things about how to make the process successful.
- Assess the contact center operations and technology current state.
It’s easy to become sold on a solution based on its promise and later learn that those promises don’t solve your problem. Ensuring that your technology solutions align with your needs depends on taking a close look at how your people work, what your constituents need, and where deficiencies impede those stakeholder groups from getting what they need. That’s a big job, but here’s good news: We often find that better utilizing existing technology is part of a contact center’s solution.
- Examine existing metrics and KPIs.
Just as legacy systems outlive their usefulness, so do processes, goals, and metrics. In some cases, “the way things have always been done” impedes efficiency, and focusing on the wrong KPIs keeps progress at bay. Especially as a contact center works to meet changing demands, methods and measurements have to shift along with them.
- Define desired outcomes.
We live and breathe technology here. Its value for service delivery is tremendous and only going to increase as technology develops. Still, it will never have value on its own. Until you experience technology that truly aligns with the outcomes you want, you’re missing out, even if you have the best and shiniest and newest tool. You can’t reach that technology nirvana without first defining every detail you can about where you want to go and how you want to get there.
- Harness available resources within the organization.
Just as processes and tools may need to be reconfigured, so too may your teams. In many cases, employees have filled in where they could or been sidetracked into tasks that don’t utilize their talents. When you’ve taken all of the steps above, you are likely to see more clearly how you can shift teams to develop and better allocate those resources. As you develop further routes to service that involve less human interaction, chances are good that you can create better one-on-one experiences for those constituents who need them.
Meet your complex challenges step by step
Increasing expectations from constituents are difficult to meet until you’re effectively leveraging advanced contact center technology and operational models—in the ways that best align with your intended outcomes and the ways your teams work. Moving forward requires a new set of capabilities and enables governments to break down barriers and eliminate the constraints of organizational and data silos; deliver differentiated experiences at scale—consistently—across every interaction and channel; and attain never-before-possible levels of service by improving workforce engagement and implementing artificial intelligence bots.
Action now will lay the foundation for years to come, bringing significantly improved and standardized access to services, advanced options for self-service, greater operational efficiency, and a productive workforce re-tasked to focus on high-touch, complex processes that truly require human connection and cognition. Those monumental gains aren’t impossible. Just take them step by step.