Smarten your channels: Five ways for the public sector to save money

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Government agencies are always aiming to improve efficiency and reduce their costs. But the citizens they serve also expect a better customer experience. How can these goals be reconciled? Many big public sector agencies are still very dependent on inbound telephony and mail for handling customer requests. They are also doing a lot online, but […]

Government agencies are always aiming to improve efficiency and reduce their costs. But the citizens they serve also expect a better customer experience. How can these goals be reconciled?

Many big public sector agencies are still very dependent on inbound telephony and mail for handling customer requests. They are also doing a lot online, but help functionality tends to be limited. If you get stuck, you may need to wade through complicated guidance or get on the phone and sit through a long list of options or explain your problem repeatedly before reaching someone who can help.

Sound familiar? As frustrating as they are for the customer, inefficient and unfriendly customer-facing channels are also costly. The more customers can get the answers they need through digital channels, and the more they are routed to the right person first time, the more money can be saved.

Here are five ways for the public sector to do this – some of which are demonstrated in the video below.

Natural Language
An alternative to the traditional IVR. No-one likes listening to multiple lists of options on the phone in order to reach a human being. Instead, ask your customers how you can help, and let speech analytics qualify their call and route it to the right agent.

By improving the accuracy of call routing and resolving more calls first time, this makes contact centres more efficient.

Smart Call
Being placed on hold wastes customers’ time and money, and causes them stress. Embedded in a smartphone app, Smart Call displays the estimated waiting times to speak to an agent on a user interface. Customers can join the queue without placing a call. An alert pops up when the agent is available, the customer calls and is connected immediately.

A good way of improving customer experience and driving adoption of mobile apps while relieving pressure on call volumes at peak times.

Virtual Assistant
Quick and cost effective, automatic agents can be added to web pages for customers to turn to when they get stuck. By analysing keywords they help customers find the information they’re looking for, and can help resolve low-value questions 24/7, relieving pressure on the call centre.

An interactive feature which makes the web feel more customer friendly.

Web chat
Similar in feel to a Virtual Assistant, but with a real agent chatting to the customer via an instant messaging application, for fixed or mobile online use. This adds most value when it’s targeted at achieving the desired outcome (a ‘conversion’) at a particular stage in the customer journey – for example, someone’s first online tax return, or online CV-building for an unemployed person. It’s ideal for more complex cases where the Virtual Assistant cannot resolve the query.

An alternative to a call, which makes the web feel less impersonal and automated.

Co-browsing
Having trouble with that online form filling? Co-browsing accompanies a web chat or phone call and offers real-time help for a customer trying to self-serve online, for example by showing them where to find the information they’re looking for. An agent sees what the customer is doing on his / her screen and helps them navigate the web pages.

It brings together the online and voice channels, helping to make customers more self-sufficient next time.

Watch the video here

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