In achieving customer service excellence there is no ‘one-size-fits-all’. To understand the nuances of the process we spoke to Vikram Sehgal, VP and Research Director at Forrester. Here is what he had to say:
In terms of CX, how do you think Governments, Local or Federal, can go about understanding the needs and expectations of the customer and what are the strategies around that?
We have been looking at CX globally, into processes that Government agencies are delivering, and one thing is becoming extremely clear – progressive Governments are very keen on improving their CX, as so many things depend on it, like – citizen happiness and the satisfaction that they receive from the experience that the Government agency delivers. If the agency continues to expand over time, and in certain locations a lot of these agencies are funded through federal monies, then there is a real challenge for these agencies surrounding management change.
This could lead to a funding cuts and could have a politically sensitive atmosphere to it. This is one of the main reasons why progressive Governments and progressive federal agencies have now started looking at how they can improve themselves in the CX space and how they can get funding to expand engagement with customers. So, that is where we see this moving forward.
Based on Forrester’s research, do you see that some countries have actually got the strategies to set up CX successfully?
At Forrester, we have covered a few markets and we usually find that Governments in Canada and Australia are ahead. They analyse and measure their customer success to improve on their services. In fact, in my research, I would say Australia is doing better.
What we also find is citizens have certain expectations and these expectations are built upon their engagement, not just with the Government agencies, but also for the private sector.
For example, citizens interact with banks with the expectation of real-time services from banking institutions. Similarly, they believe that any type of Government service needs to also meet third real-time data needs in terms of pension payments and the like.
What we see in the CX space is, even in markets like Australia, when you compare the CX performance of Government agencies with private sector industries like banking and retail, it is lower.
What strategies do you think Australia can improve on to better the CX operations in Local Councils?
We have done a study in the Australian market where we looked at a couple of federal agencies. Our subjects were a mix of federal agencies and local agencies, and what we found is customers need their communication with Government to be very effective and that is something a lot of agencies are trying to achieve.
Particularly having more digital interactions and a seamless experience. Customers often will have questions and complaints. They want these answered fairly quickly, and if you have a digital channel that can manage these questions it can make the process more seamless.
An issue lies with when they are calling in and they expect quick problem solving, but the experience can depend on the customer service representative and his knowledge. What if his knowledge base does not satisfy the questions? The agency then has to tackle the issue of uniform knowledge management across the board to make sure that customer satisfaction rates are high. So how you would do that appropriately and efficiently is a big challenge for Government agencies.
Where do Governments stand with the private sector in terms of customer service?
There are a lot of digital transformation changes that need to take place. Governments are still lagging behind as far as enabling the digital channels to make the interactions that customers expect them to. When they start going down that path, they need to keep in mind the questions that customers typically have.
The private sector is racing ahead, but Government is 8 to 10 years behind. Government needs to catch up. Instead of tackling the bigger picture first, they need to start tackling the low hanging fruit. There needs to be a focus on the most frequently raised concerns and questions that customers have and try to move towards progressing slowly from the ground up.
Customer service across both private and public sectors tends to be a major pain point. Incremental improvements in chatbots and in using AI based solutions will be able to resolve these problems, but they could also start with featuring the most used transactions and customer journeys on their websites to kick-start the process.
Learn more from Vikram at the Improving the Customer Experience across Government Conference. He will be sharing his insights on “The state of customer experience in Government” on the 12th & 13th of February in Sydney.