There’s money to be saved, and federal government agencies are taking a look at their customer contact centers. There are too many of these centers, and they don’t always work together very well. That adds up to costs.
Consolidation is an obvious solution. Technology has evolved to ensure continued customer satisfaction, and mitigate risks to programs and projects that require real-time responses. The transformation has begun at many agencies in the federal government. The quality, effectiveness, and speed of service are changing with the development and deployment of new technologies, agile processes, and training for customer service agents.
To speed consolidation, planners at many federal agencies are looking at commercial best practices. The metrics from the private sector — based on proven consistency, efficiency and quality of services — show the way for more predictable allocations of capital resources for budget planning. Here are three important takeaways that federal agencies can use.
Make It Scalable
The way to doing more with less in an era of government belt-tightening is to adapt scalable service desk operations to meet the complexity and diversity in an agency’s core objectives. Many federal agencies have dozens of help desks operating independently across various states. For example, the Department of Interior has 71,000 employees receiving technical support from over 50 dispersed help desks. They are now planning consolidation – with the intent that many of these operations can be fulfilled virtually and implemented with fewer contact centers. This is a cost-savings and return on investment opportunity that is gradually being recognized by agencies throughout government.
Automate and Assimilate
Because of recent IT advances, (specifically with cloud alternatives) customer contact centers can now be automated and assimilated into enterprise service desk platforms that use multi-channel contact tools such as phone, email, text, Web, mobile devices, or through self-service tools and agent assisted responses. These virtual analytics tools make the agents’ jobs easier by simplifying and augmenting their capabilities to respond to customer needs. With improving software, agencies can now monitor, track progress of tickets, and analyze end-user customer satisfaction to a degree that was not possible in the past.
In conjunction with technology tools, standardized and continuous improvement processes are an integral part of optimizing service desk solutions. Agents are a major component of this change management. Creating a culture of collaboration while hiring and training technically savvy customer service agents are paramount for success. Incentivizing the agents with performance rewards is also important, because a happy agent means a happy customer.
Reliability, quality and cost-savings are integral to federal contact center mission objectives. The consolidation trend can be fulfilled with commercial metrics, new technology offerings, and the best processes and people.
Charles (Chuck) brooks serves as Vice President/Client executive for the Department of Homeland Security at Xerox. He has extensive experience in executive management, government relations, and R & D in the public and private sectors.