Welcome to the second installment of our two-part blog series examining the role of technology in enhancing the customer experience in government. Two weeks ago, Part 1 of the series focused on improving back-office efficiencies by implementing Microsoft technology and taking advantage of supporting tools developed by HCL specifically to address common challenges faced by councils. Today’s post will focus on streamlining and automating the customer-facing processes inherent to government.
But first, just a quick refresher on why this is such an enormously important topic. The emergence and staying power of ecommerce for consumer packaged goods (CPG) led to a sea change in consumer behaviors and expectations. Our collective approach to shopping became one of “I may not need it right now, but I sure do want it right now.” And that buying philosophy has since transcended CPG and become the mainstream behavior for consumers and citizens alike.
In other words, simply because Amazon can deliver to your doorstep tomorrow what you order from your bed tonight, we now expect (nay, demand) a similar seemingly impossible level of treatment and care across the board – even from our councils. Now, given that government institutions are typically neither warmly accepting of process change nor quick to be early adopters of technology advancements, there exists a lot of opportunity for improvement!
Without further ado, let’s dig into how best to seize those opportunities in customer-facing processes.
Front-office Technology Transformation in Government
The key to improving the customer experience in government is personalised omnichannel citizen engagement. After all, the citizens a council serves don’t want to feel like just a number or an address, and they have their own unique communication preferences. Opening the lines of communication from every angle and device is critical in making sure citizens feel comfortable contacting you. Fostering a relationship built on trust requires this type of engagement, and it starts with Dynamics 365 Customer Service with Omnichannel, which gives councils access to:
- Self Service Portals
It’s become a baseline expectation of citizens that a council provide a self-service option, so if you’re not currently doing so, you’re alienating a large segment of your populace. Perhaps most importantly, these portals connect seamlessly to and with your back-office operations. When data flows freely between the front and back of the house, you’re well positioned to deliver extraordinary service.
- Virtual Agents/ChatBots
With the growth of messaging applications, chatbots are rapidly becoming the biggest trend for the chat channel. Chatbots are great for customer service because they can handle basic requests and answer common questions. Consumers are increasingly looking for 24/7 service, and Microsoft Power Virtual Agents and AI-driven chatbots can handle after-hours enquiries.
SMS is often used as a channel for unwelcome one-way marketing communications to consumers, but it also makes for an effective citizen engagement channel. In general, citizens prefer SMS for the convenience it provides by eliminating the need to call in to a service center and wait in a queue for a simple question or to check on the status of a work order.
When a council lacks an effective omnichannel platform, the email channel usually suffers the most. Without coordination across channels, emails might be answered by multiple agents who may provide conflicting or incorrect information – an obviously frustrating experience that only serves to harm customer service. As one of the most popular channels used by citizens, it’s critical to get it right.
- Internet of Things (IoT)
Connecting the devices they own or manage with IoT empowers councils to provide a proactive and innovative channel for service. It enables capabilities to monitor issues, send alerts and automate service tickets, thereby increasing proactive service offerings.
- Social Media
Whether we like it or not, social media engagement is a requirement for today’s businesses, so councils are best served to invest in technology that enables effective engagement in this channel. After all, whether citizens are unhappy and want their voices heard or are fiercely loyal and want to advocate on your behalf, their ability to do it is key to enhancing service delivery.
One more important point: a critical component of an effective and personalised omnichannel strategy is implementing all the channels above with a high level of control. The technology in the Microsoft stack comes standard with tools for system governance and controls. And an experienced implementation partner – like HCL’s Microsoft Business Applications Practice – will ensure compliance guardrails are properly installed and functioning as needed.
Providing excellent citizen service and engagement is the key to your council’s ability to increase citizen loyalty, achieve higher long-term client retention, and deliver a service experience that exceeds those sky-high customer expectations that have become the new normal in today’s world.