Top 5 Predictions for Government and Public Sector Customer Service Part 2: 2015 Predictions

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Now that I’ve graded my performance on my predictions for government and public sector customer service in 2014, it’s time for my Top 5 predictions for 2015. Enjoy!

1. Customer experience becomes strategic for government

Government and public sector organizations will increasingly approach customer experience in a more strategic manner, just like their private sector counterparts have been doing for years. We will see more digital strategies being implemented to improve customer service as a primary goal than, for example, reducing the cost to serve. We will also see a transition from qualitative to quantitative measurement of customer service.

As things stand currently, the U.S. Federal government seems positioned to lead the way with the release of its U.S. Digital Services Playbook in August 2014, which consisted of 13 “plays” that provide guidance to federal chief information officers (CIOs) trying to improve their digital customer experience. And the U.K. doesn’t look too far behind with its All-Party Parliamentary Group on Customer Service.

2. Government digital services will take an important evolutionary step

We’ve seen this coming for some time. At first, government and public sector organizations were focused on just “getting stuff up there,” with an “if you build it, [they] will come” mentality. But, that is just the first step. These organizations need to make sure their citizens and customers actually consume these digital services and content. One aspect of this is about providing support for your citizens and customers.

You spend time training your agents on how to use your customer service systems, but you don’t provide support and guidance for your citizens and customers? How do you expect your customers to use these systems given you haven’t trained them? Government and public sector organizations must provide support and guidance for their digital users, such as assisted live chat and co-browse, as we discussed in our A Digital First Framework for the Public Sector white paper, something that is becoming more and more used in contact centers as evidenced by Esteban Kolsky's research.

3. Despite a cautious start, the government outlook will be a lot cloudier

The forecast is looking positively overcast for 2015 with more and more government organizations turning to the cloud. It’s taken a while as, with anything new, government agencies have been very cautious. In fact, some early adopters are actually bringing services back on premises. However, barriers such as security and procurement are gradually being addressed—freeing up more to take the next step.

4. Government use of social media will transition from tactical to strategic

Government and private sector organizations will adopt social for customer service for at least two reasons. First, it provides a way to manage demand in the contact center, something that government organizations need to be able to do. By listening to relevant social conversations, governments will be able to “nip issues in the bud” before they translate into large numbers of contact center calls. Second, from a government perspective, social networks provide a valuable source of citizen and customer views on government policies, services and performance—views that may never be expressed in any other forum, including surveys. This means government agencies will start to follow the lead of the private sector in maximizing the opportunities of social media.

5. Government organizations will look to simplify through software rationalization

Whilst we hear optimism being expressed about the economies of many countries across the world today, it is nearly always cautious. This partly reflects difficult decisions ahead for many government organizations regarding how to continue delivering front-line services with even smaller budgets.

As a result, many government leaders are thinking laterally about the software systems they have had in place for years and whether they can rationalize them by being more relaxed about features and functions—and more concerned about simplicity. For example, we have seen rationalization of the simpler back-office software systems into the main customer service software system which have similar case management, workflow and database functionality. I expect to see more of this in 2015 and beyond.

There you have it…my predictions for 2015. As always, I welcome your thoughts!

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