Self-service, social media, video and mobile channels: What does the future hold for public sector customer service?

Dec 14
Share on LinkedInTweet about this on TwitterGoogle+Share on FacebookEmail to someone

“…government needs to match their citizens’ insatiable appetite for mobile and evolve their service offerings in this space.”

As customer expectations and demands continue to increase so too does the pressure on public sector organisations to adopt innovative and cost effective customer service strategies and approaches.

But how can we increase customer satisfaction and optimise our multi-channel offering whilst at the same time reducing our inefficiencies and unnecessary costs?

This week Sharon Melamed, Managing Director at Matchboard, shares her insights on the current public sector customer service landscape; the trends, emerging channels, new methods for performance measurement and the latest technologies and solutions available.

Q: What are the key trends Matchboard predicts for government customer service in 2015?

We’ll see a greater reliance on technology in 2015 as government races to keep up with consumer demand for an “omni-channel” experience. This includes more self-service applications, service through social media, video and mobile channels, and even through face-to-face kiosks.

Q: Elaborating on the “omni-channel” trend, which channels do you see as the ones to watch?

I’d highlight mobile and web chat. Australia has one of the highest smartphone penetration rates in the world, so when citizens contact government, there’s now a good chance it’s through a mobile device. That’s not limited to placing a call, it could be opening a chat session, or getting self-service on an agency’s app or mobile website. I think government needs to match their citizens’ insatiable appetite for mobile and evolve their service offerings in this space. Web chat has been around for a while, but it’s starting to really take off and consistently receives high satisfaction ratings from users versus other channels. It’s particularly useful in a government setting, where citizens need to be very clear on their rights and responsibilities and the written transcription of a web chat session provides that very clearly. This is particularly useful if someone from a non-English speaking background doesn’t understand every word of the verbal advice through the call centre.

Q: How are contact centres changing the way they measure success in this new world?

Contact centres are moving away from what I call “inside out” metrics – for example, average handle time – which are measured with internal systems, to “outside in” metrics, where the outside world, that is, citizens, are being asked to rate their service experience.  What matters to the citizen/customer is how quickly they get their query resolved, so metrics like First Time Resolution and Customer Effort Score are important to focus on. Some of these metrics need to be measured across multiple channels, reflecting the customer’s experience not just with the contact centre, but with the various touchpoints in their journey, whether that’s mobile or social media or web chat.

Q: If you had to call out three technologies as “game changers” for public sector customer service, which ones would you highlight?

There are so many exciting technologies out there which can really save customers time and effort. An interesting one is mobile customer service applications, which allow the customer to see the IVR menu on their phone and tap through the options, rather than wade through a long series of announcements on the voice IVR, with the phone to their ear. Traditional IVR is dreaded by so many people, this is really a game-changer to reduce people’s frustration with getting to the right call centre agent quickly – or perhaps even having their query resolved through self-service from within the IVR. Another “game-changer” is video.  Australia is a big country, and it’s difficult to provide the option of face-to-face services to all regions… unless you embrace video. Just like mobile, video is huge in Australia, as seen in the popularity of Facetime and Youtube. Government can really embrace this consumer love for video in their customer service strategy, and we see this already happening in a small way with telehealth initiatives, for example.

Finally, I’d call out virtual agent software as a trend to watch. This software allows the customer to express their query in their own words and get an answer, without being constrained by whether those words appear on an agency’s website (so very different to traditional “search” bar functionality). This enables the user to find answers faster, correlating to lower customer effort and higher customer satisfaction.

Virtual agents can also appear on mobile devices and Facebook pages, presenting a unified omni-channel self-service brand.

How is your organisation transforming its customer service strategy?
Which channels and new technologies have proved to be success for your business?

Matchboard is a media partner of the upcoming Enhancing Public Sector Customer Service Conference taking place 18-19 March 2015 in Melbourne. This conference will bring together industry thought leaders from a whole host of award winning public and private sector organisations to share their customer service ‘wins’ and challenges. Click here to reserve your seat now.

Submitted by Sharon Melamed, Managing Director at Matchboard

Sharon Melamed, Managing Director at Matchboard

Sharon Melamed is a digital entrepreneur with 25 years’ experience in customer service and outsourcing. She founded Matchboard, a free online sourcing platform, and FindaConsultant, a free online consultant match service. In 2013, LinkedIn awarded Sharon the coveted Power Profile status for having one of the 50 most visited profiles in Australia. If you’d like to chat about any of the solutions outlined in this blog, contact Sharon through:

Twitter: @sharon_melamed

One thought on “Self-service, social media, video and mobile channels: What does the future hold for public sector customer service?

  1. very interesting article.

    From a consumer’s perspective, my biggest issues are:
    1) time to wait for service
    2) language

    I find that government more than any other organisation has THE longest wait times. Traditionally the consumer has no idea how long they will be on hold or where they stand in the queue so you end up holding on for ages and ages. Having more channels available along with call back options would be a great benefit.

    With regards to language, introducing the Visual-IVR channel will allow people to navigate the menus in their mother tongue and at a speed that works for them. Then having the ability for that data to transfer to an agent and reduce the I&V process will work wonders for customer experience.

    Let’s call a spade a spade – Govt is just like a big organisation with a diverse range of customers who come from a even more diverse background. At the end of the day, every company wants to cut costs so that they can increase their profit margin. The only difference is that Govt is generally so slow to move that we as consumers accept this as acceptable when it isn’t.

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Other blog posts you may enjoy: