Contemporary government agencies must focus on delivering excellent customer service using limited resources. Even with the cost efficiency of services such as automated telephony and e-government (web-based services), the level of customer service provided by U.S. public agencies varies widely. Best practices for call center communication and web-based services should rely on best practices for responsive government.
Single Point of Resolution
More than wait times and the pleasure of speaking to a human being, customers want answers from government agencies that solve their problems. Dr. David Blanton reported online in "Baseline" magazine about the experience of Unisys in giving phone representatives much more training than they need so the customer only has to speak with one representative. The right training program ensures the phone representative can serve as the "single point of resolution," and the customer does not have to get frustrated at being transferred around from department to department to find his answer.
Whether you speak to the customer in person, on the telephone, via email or through written correspondence, courtesy is the key factor in providing good customer service. The National Performance Review led by Vice President Al Gore found that a focus on the customer and using courtesy in human communications is essential. The Performance Review recognized the pressures facing government agencies amid budget and customer pressures. The agency must identify ways to increase efficiency (i.e. streamlining services) while providing enough training for employees to use courtesy in all forms of communication. The right training helps to ensure that government customers have a pleasant experience when they contact the agency even when the message they receive is not what they hope to hear.
Various e-government initiatives require coordination between the various departments of the government agency. It is not enough to provide electronic government services to customers without coordination. According to Seifert and McLoughlin, if the agency does not use a centralized strategy for standardizing the organization, accuracy and completeness of information, it runs the risk of creating "islands of automation." One solution that benefits customers is a central task force with representatives from every department in the agency. Whether this group meets a certain number of times per year or communicates in an online workspace, the coordination, including members of the task force reviewing each other's websites, ensures that customers have a more seamless experience in using e-government applications.
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