How Salesforce is Helping Governments Modernize Contact Centers, Improve Citizen Experience

Government organizations must modernize their contact centers to provide accessible and equitable services to citizens.

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Millions of U.S. residents rely on personalized interactions with government for information regarding crucial services like healthcare, student loans, benefits and much more. In increasingly unpredictable times, it’s imperative for lines of communication to be available, fast and reliable. 

“Call centers are extremely valuable because their intent is to resolve the easiest issues,” says Salesforce Digital Transformation Executive Mia Jordan. “Neither constituents nor employees want to hunt for information on websites, so they typically pick up the phone to get a quick answer to a problem or question.” 

Unfortunately, long hold times, disparate systems and processes often hinder efficient or consistent communication, which can prove frustrating for constituents and employees alike. To build trust between government and citizens, the Biden Administration released an executive order calling for government organizations to implement technology that makes information and services quickly accessible for everyone. 

“The Biden Administration's executive order is focused on life experiences, and the fact that when something unexpected or tragic happens to a constituent, the type of services they often require are across multiple agencies,” explains Jordan and calling for help is typically the first attempt at relief. “The reality is, we need to be prepared for those life experiences.”

Moving forward, government organizations must invest in tools that consolidate information in a way that is easily obtainable and provide a variety of means to engage with constituents. But modernization is no easy feat, especially given the complex challenges they must overcome to do so. 

Cost Inefficiencies and Substandard Technology are Roadblocks to Success 

The first and most prominent challenge for many agencies and local organizations in upgrading and maintaining contact centers is finding the necessary budget, and justifying it against competing priorities. 

“Contact centers are looked at as cost centers, with these large bottom-line costs to an agency,” explains Jordan. “When funds start to get tight and cuts have to be made, they start looking at those things that stick out the most right on their budget sheet.” 

An additional detriment to budget is the struggle government contact centers face in recruiting and retaining talent, with turnover averaging at 30%. This is, in part, due to an often overwhelming environment in which employees must visit numerous systems — each with its own separate login credentials — to access all the necessary information to assist just one citizen. 

Technology that lacks a unified knowledge base is unable to tie together constituent data, meaning it is usually scattered across several systems, leaving employees with only a fragmented understanding of their customer’s situation and an inability to fully meet their needs. 

“Not only does this impact the customer, as there is often no personalized digital experience available or method to solve issues on their own,” explains Jordan, who notes that disparate views produce limited capacity for analysis, resulting in an agent having to pass along the citizen’s call from department to department. This involved process culminates in a time consuming and disheartening experience for all involved. 

Salesforce’s Platform is Uniquely Equipped to Help 

Salesforce is working with several federal and state organizations to streamline contact centers, ease the burden on employees and ensure constituents can access the information they need when and how they choose. 

Through a partnership with AWS, Salesforce is infusing state-of-the-art technology into their tools that efficiently manages call volumes, speeds up call resolution and delivers a more connected customer service experience overall.

“The embedded telephony that our platform has with AWS really gives our customers a modern digital experience that is on par with the commercial sector,” says Jordan. “This helps to boost the effectiveness of their customer support leveraging the entire suite of omnichannel features found natively within the Salesforce platform.” 

Moreover, to prevent agents from having to work simultaneously between multiple systems or passing their query to another department, Salesforce offers Agent Console, a centralized interface that provides them with a full 360-degree view of a constituent’s profile. This way, one agent can view and facilitate the full lifecycle of a customer’s experience. 

Another main focus for Salesforce is empowering citizens to take their government services into their own hands. They can create personalized experiences through live chat and messaging directly with employees on multiple channels, from websites to mobile apps, text, WhatsApp, Facebook Messenger and more. Plus, with natively built artificial intelligence and automation tools, individuals can resolve issues without ever having to ask an employee for assistance. 

“The deflection of cases with intelligent chatbots can truly help sustain efficiencies within a call center operation,” notes Jordan. “We also automate routine requests and guide customers or route them to the right agent at the right time.” 

Salesforce’s platform is also cost effective in comparison to organizations that often end up purchasing several different tools, with each requiring specialized integration expertise and additional cost. Rather than the organization having to pay additionally for regular upgrades, the Salesforce platform is constantly evolving, with regular releases three times a year (Winter, Spring, Summer) that include many new features, truly making the experience for the agents and the constituents simple, seamless and secure. 

So far, several government organizations have found success with Salesforce, including: 

  • A partnership with the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) that aims to improve access to essential VA services and resources among homeless and at-risk Veterans. The partnership amplifies awareness and ensures users have enhanced reliability and speed in VA’s web-based Status Query and Response System (SQUARES) application, built on Salesforce, to quickly offer critical services to those veterans in need. 
  • Work with the City of Chicago’s Bureau of IT that advises and manages many of the city’s technology platforms. Their team recently purchased Salesforce to develop Chicago 311 — an enterprise-wide communications strategy across its 30+ departments.
  • The City of Toronto seeks to deliver an omni-channel experience with equitable access to city services. The team stood up 311 Toronto, a cloud-based application pilot across the community that supports a comprehensive set of communication channels, integrating mobile app inquiries, inquiries submitted over social channels, website submissions and more. 

With Salesforce’s platform, federal agencies and local governments are aligning themselves with the executive order and future-proofing operations to create the best possible outcomes for constituents and employees at a moment’s notice. 

“As changes to how the government operates are rolled out, contact centers and their accompanying technologies are going to be critical to meeting a constituent where they are, at the right time,” says Jordan. “Being able to get help across multiple departments and agencies is going to be critical to making all of this real and better for our constituents.” 

Learn more about how Salesforce can help your organization modernize its contact center.

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