Industry Research : Federal Agencies Directed to Improve Customer Service
Federal agencies are under Executive Order to deliver plans to use technology to improve customer service and productivity by October 24, 2011. A recent report issued by CFI Group, the "Government Contact Center Satisfaction Index 2010," points to reducing telephone hold time as a key area where improvement can yield significant increases in customer satisfaction.
"Less time on hold means more customers satisfied with the call," the report states. It notes that since people rely more on government services during difficult economic times, a slower economy typically increases call center volumes, making served quality levels difficult to maintain.
Virtual Hold Technology(R) (VHT(R)), a provider in contact center virtual queuing systems to the private sector, has noted significant growth in its government market segment, particularly among state offices.
"In the past two years, we’ve seen tremendous growth among state departments of labor in particular," according to VHT President Mark Williams. Directly or through partners, the company now serves 25 government agencies including the Social Security Administration. "Our government growth has been fueled by high demand for services," he says.
For federal agencies considering contact center improvements while simultaneously experiencing budget constraints, Williams says that state agencies have discovered virtual queuing projects meet their strict standards for return-on-investment and effectiveness.
"When callers to 1-800 numbers wait on hold, it costs the call center money," he says. "Often, Virtual Hold solutions pay for themselves within a year by reducing toll minutes."
For example, the company estimates it saved the various departments of labor it serves $1.7 million in toll minutes in 2010 and saved callers 162 years of hold time.
According to the survey of 707 people who had recently contacted a government agency, 38% required service from a live agent in addition to an IVR (Interactive Voice Response) system – a critical point in the call handling process where hold time is likely to occur. About half the respondents said they had shared their recent experience with the contact center in conversation with others, making "great service" vital to a positive reputation for the agencies.
The Executive Order, titled "Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service," requires every federal agency to develop customer service plans that adopt best practices from the private sector, develop service standards and track performance against them, benchmark themselves against the private sector and establish a "signature" initiative for using technology to transform customer service.
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Published: Monday, August 15, 2011