Customer Service for Government: Why Not the Best?

February 25, 2015 Mark Tobin

When it comes to customer service, government agencies should be considered right alongside companies like Amazon, Ritz-Carlton and Zappos who are known for exceptional customer service. In a recent article, Rosetta Carrington Lue, chief customer service officer for the city of Philadelphia, said that “Customers’ experience in government should be the same or even better than what they’re getting in the private sector.” To achieve this level of service, unconventional approaches to problem-solving are sometimes necessary to address customer needs.

For example, in 2010, most of the country was reeling with high unemployment and a southern state’s Department of Labor was struggling with the resulting influx of demands. More and more people were applying for unemployment benefits, but resources weren’t available to keep pace. As the number of applications increased, incoming call volume also increased and the Department’s call center operation was overwhelmed. An estimated one-third of calls were answered successfully, another third went to voicemail, and the final third were simply abandoned by callers, frustrated with the long wait times.

The Department partnered with Xerox to develop an innovative solution that alleviated their call challenges without using offshore resources. The solution included a virtual work-at-home call center operation that enhanced agent retention, integrated green initiatives, and offered access to a much larger and higher quality employee base than hiring in one specific location.

Today wait times are down, caller satisfaction is up, and phone system issues are a thing of the past. In fact, the first six months were so successful that all calls, both Level 1 and Level 2, are now routed to at-home representatives. Former state employees were also hired to ensure that institutional knowledge wasn’t lost. In addition, during periods of especially high demand, when desired by the Department, calls can be routed to large call centers to meet surge volumes without missing a beat. Read the whole success story and download the case study here.

Government agencies don’t have to settle for second-best customer service. Your customers deserve more.

About the Author

Program Director, Xerox

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