Technology brings better customer service to government

Andrew Cannington, LivePerson

Rapidly advancing technology is opening new doors to convenience, speed, and transparency for private-sector customers. New devices and techniques are pushing the boundaries of what is possible.

But these benefits are often not realised in government, where tight budgets are making it difficult for the public sector to deliver services of a similarly high quality. Agencies at all levels of government are being called upon to provide more responsive service, better collaboration with customers, increased transparency and more proactive efforts to improve customer satisfaction.

It therefore doesn’t then come as a surprise that with increasing consumer expectations, interactions with government agencies frustrate and disappoint many citizens.

Government agencies aren’t just dealing with citizens. They communicate on a daily basis with other government agencies, private sectors and stakeholders from various industries. With so many ‘customers’, it’s very hard to deliver quality, personal service all the time.

Today’s citizens and stakeholders demand fast, accurate, and consistent answers from government agencies – and they will clearly express their dissatisfaction if those expectations are not met.

To make matters worse, stakeholders now expect to be able to deal with agencies across a multitude of channels and platforms – phone, e-mail, Internet, mobile devices, social media, and physical offices. Someone may call in, speak to a representative, send an email and then consult with another representative by walking into the agency office.

Improving the citizen experience tops the agenda of many governments. Government agencies need to realise that customer experience is more than just a catchphrase. It refers to the real, everyday interactions between agencies and their stakeholders. Agencies that deliver a superior customer experience can fulfil important objectives versus agencies that deliver a substandard customer experience.

There are many other benefits that come with improving customer service. Governments can significantly improve the service experience – while lowering costs – if they look to the same technologies that have driven the need for exemplary customer service in the public sector.

With messaging apps and voice assistants like Amazon’s Alexa and Apple’s Siri moving to dominate how consumers communicate with businesses, conversational design has become the next big thing in communication. This technology focuses on the experience, conversation dialogue, and artificial intelligence capabilities that large organisations need in order to create a conversational interface with stakeholders.

The interfaces can be delivered over apps, web sites, Alexa, Google Home and popular messengers like Facebook Messenger. The experiences include customer care from bots and human agents when necessary, as well as sales and marketing use cases. From a government’s standpoint, these technologies can be tailored to ensure timely and professional service to various stakeholders.

These sorts of innovations can deliver improvements such as lower costs and higher satisfaction. Understanding the stakeholder needs that matter most should form the foundation for these efforts. By identifying the government services responsible for the greatest dissatisfaction, as well as the underlying causes, governments can design targeted initiatives for improving day-to-day experiences.

Stakeholders can benefit by transacting with government agencies more quickly, interacting in ways that are more convenient and accessing more information about a variety of services without waiting on hold.

Andrew Cannington is Regional Vice President, APAC for digital messaging vendor LivePerson.

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