Page 1

Integrating Multichannel Communication in Government Customer Service Industry Perspective

Multichannel Communication in Government Customer Service


“Great customer experiences are full of surprising ‘wow’ moments.” During these moments, citizens get the feeling of being satisfied, with a sense that a company or agency respects you, is listening to you, and is going to meet your expectations, from your first contact through the entire experience. Scott Frendt, Vice President of Public Sector CRM Solutions at Oracle


Oracle Industry Perspective

Integrating Multichannel Communication in Government Customer Service

Customer service in the public sector is central to both an effective government and a well-functioning society. Providing the right services at the right time to constituents fulfills vital government functions, such as disaster recovery, food assistance and healthcare initiatives. With the increasing adoption of smart phones, tablets, computers, and digital resources, citizens are able to engage with government through multiple channels. To keep pace with technology, customer service requires an integrated, multichannel approach to deliver resources to citizens across generations and demographics. This industry perspective explores multichannel customer service strategies in the public sector, and how they can power personalized service experiences for citizens while also enabling more productive agencies.

T H E M U LT I C H AN N EL AP P ROAC H : OP P ORT U N I T I ES I N EN H A N C I N G C USTOME R S ERV I C E I N G OV ERN M EN T The importance of improved customer service has gained traction in the public sphere in recent years. With Executive Order 13571—Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service, President Obama directed all federal agencies to improve customer service through innovative technology. The order states, “With advances in technology and service delivery systems in other sectors, the public’s expectations of the Government have continued to rise.” Accordingly, “The government must keep pace with and even exceed those expectations.”

Multichannel Communication in Government Customer Service


In addition to the United States, in March of 2008, the government of the United Kingdom established the Customer Service Excellence standard, an operating tool for driving customer-focused change in the delivery of services. Moreover, cities and counties across the US, the UK and other countries are revamping their customer service activities and exploring new ways to reach citizens. In a GovLoop report titled, “Re-Imaging Customer Service in Government,” Scott Frendt, Vice President of Public Sector CRM Solutions at Oracle, provided a vision for an exceptional customer service experience in the public sector. Frendt suggested that, “Great customer experiences are full of surprising ‘wow’ moments.” During these moments, citizens get the feeling of being satisfied,

with a sense that a company or agency respects you, is listening to you, and is going to meet your expectations, from your first contact through the entire experience. Today, citizens engage with the public sector in various ways – they may research a service online, make an inquiry via email, request a text message reminder and enter a facility for an in-person interaction. Customers demand choice. Meanwhile, government must be present wherever citizens engage. Agencies must employ strategies that serve citizens across multiple channels. In doing so, they can create four valuable opportunities for better service delivery: Integrating innovation Enhancing productivity Enabling self-service Reducing costs Below we outline each of these opportunities.

INTEGRATING INNOVATION Trends such as analytics, mobility and social media are concurrent movements impacting governments across the globe. In utilizing multiple mediums to reach citizens, agencies can simultaneously integrate these technologies into their customer service strategies. Agencies should integrate analytics in order to measure effectiveness and make improvements in how they manage their channels, while mobile serves as an innovative on-the-go self-service mechanism, and social media provides a valuable medium for collecting feedback.


Oracle Industry Perspective



Employing customer service across multiple channels does not simply mean expanding to more communication mediums. Often, the key to managing channels is simplification. For example, Oracle assisted in consolidating five call centers down to one in Montgomery County, Maryland. In doing so, the county’s residents have improved access to services through one centralized phone number. Meanwhile, county administrators were able to redesign a more efficient business process for handling calls. In a video interview with GovLoop, Frendt highlighted that the consolidation saved Montgomery County over $10 million in the first year.

A multichannel approach to customer services is imperative to a modern customer service strategy. However, the public sector faces particular challenges to implementation due to budget constraints, entrenched organizational culture, and barriers to customer service data. According to Frendt, the biggest customer service challenge faced by the public sector “is the economic reality of what agencies and departments all across the board – federal, state, local, provincial government – are having to deal with in trying to provide services quickly, while staying up with technology with the budget constraints that they have.”

ENABLING SELF-SERVICE Oftentimes, great customer service experiences do not require interacting with a service representative. Employing multiple channels of customer service can enable citizens to find what they need, when they need it easily without the need for personal assistance. For example, the New York State Department of Motor Vehicles provides 24/7 access to information and self-service capabilities on its website to roughly 11 million motorists. Of the 3,500 to 4,000 daily site visitors, less than 2% email a question.

REDUCING COSTS In both the Montgomery County and New York DMV examples, the vast majority of citizens were able to get the information and services they needed with fewer resources deployed by government, leading to consistent, convenient service and lower operating costs.

Government agencies face increasing pressure to become more responsive, transparent, and accountable to citizens. Meanwhile, the budgets to provide essential services remains flat. The task of expanding and improving customer service channels under limited resources poses a substantial challenge. Luckily, there are a number of ways in which governments can get started in maximizing communications through a multichannel customer service strategy. It all starts with an emphasis on building seamless communications.

S EAM L ES S C OM M U N I C AT I ON S T H ROUGH M U LT I P L E C H A N N EL S Implementing a multichannel customer service strategy is like putting together pieces to a puzzle. The key is to understand how they fit together. With so many channels, such as social media, call centers, live chats, and other communication channels, agencies are challenged to find the right integration of technologies. In addition, the pressure on government to become more accessible and responsive through these

Multichannel Communication in Government Customer Service


channels involves the support of robust content management systems, analytic tools, and consolidated response centers. Seamless communications requires seamless technology. Frendt stated that tying these new technologies together means “providing applications and capabilities for not only customer relationship management (CRM) solutions, but also for social relationship management.” Integrating technological solutions has the power to yield integrated results, for example, at the crosssection of social media and public services. “Combining the evolution of citizen relationship management with social relationship management gives us huge opportunity to not only listen to what’s going on with citizens, but also giving them feedback, providing input mechanisms in collaboration with true knowledge-based content,” said Frendt. New technologies – including social, mobile, analytics, the cloud, and e-government – have entered the public sphere from various origins. All these channels developed independently, but integrating them presents an important opportunity to leverage technology for improved, seamless customer experiences.

5 NEXT STEPS FO R T H E P U B LI C SE CTOR Developments in technology have led to an evolving age in customer service, a topic that GovLoop and Oracle have been exploring through numerous resources. The chart below was taken from the webinar, “The Changing Face in Customer Service: Government Case Studies.” Building on Oracle’s five ways where government can get started, we elaborate on how agencies can plan channels together and build seamless customer experiences.

1) UNDERSTAND CUSTOMER TOUCH POINTS Finding moments of customer interaction is one of the first steps to establishing seamless channels. During the GovLoop webinar, Frendt stated that, “the complexity [of service], choice and cost dictate how you provide compelling customer service experiences. So the customer touch points are key, in addition to finding out where the moments are.” Knowing the customer and how they need to interact with a public service is essential preliminary work. According to Frendt, “there are a number of moments of truth, whether it’s social media, whether it’s in the building, whether it’s on a mobile device and so on.” Evaluating your target customer is crucial to uncovering which moments matter most.

2) ESTABLISH A KNOWLEDGE FOUNDATION Seamless communications requires that information and services are consistent throughout the customer experience. An agency’s workforce needs


Oracle Industry Perspective

to be equipped with a central knowledgebase of standard, easily understandable answers to frequently asked questions. Information on agency services should be organized and publicized based from the perspective of what customers need to know, especially on the web.

while engaging, even large, organizations to their constituents. Text message reminders during a service delivery process and optimization of agency websites for mobile are starting points for getting on the mobile movement.

5) PROVIDE CONTINUOUS FEEDBACK A solid knowledge foundation is also a beneficial tool for internal customer service. For example, Oracle helped the Air Force establish a web-based knowledge management system to serve as a single access point for up-to-date information for the agency’s military and civilian employees. The Air Force Personnel Center consolidated several previous personnel programs and is proving to be a more stable, more centralized and faster solution for workforce management. After implementation, satisfaction ratings rose from poor to very high.

3) OFFER SELF-SERVICE As the private sector continues to develop ways to facilitate self-service by customers, the government is increasingly expected to do the same. There are countless opportunities to enable self-service in the public sphere, whether it be purchasing licenses, reporting an incident or looking up hours of a state park. By offering these services online and/or on a mobile device, agencies allow citizens easier and timelier access to services and free themselves of substantial workloads.

4) GO MOBILE, GO SOCIAL Citizens are constantly plugged in – Facebook,Twitter, online platforms and mobility have connected people like never before. If a citizen wants an answer to a question, they might look up an agency’s phone number or they might simply look up the answer through an online channel. Maintaining and updating social media channels allows customers to be informed on the latest program information,

Maintaining ongoing communications with customers requires an active feedback loop. In addition to planning and implementing multichannel customer service strategies, agencies need to gather feedback and adjust to changing customer needs. For example, the City of New York’s Department of Transportation modified its hours in response to a customer survey. Making even small adjustments according to citizen feedback can have larger effects on customer satisfaction. Like other customer touch points, feedback mechanisms are best implemented at “moments of truth,” such as short surveys after a service interaction. Maximizing channels in customer service “allows the citizen to be expedited through any process, whether it be filing for a permit or license or reporting a pothole in the street that needs to be fixed,” said Frendt. With a strong commitment to improving the lives of citizens and establishing partnerships with them, agencies can transform service delivery and achieve significant cost savings. By employing communications strategies with an orientation on improved customer service, government can be well positioned to respond more swiftly and efficiently, as well as expand its engagement with citizens.

Multichannel Communication in Government Customer Service




Oracle offers an optimized and fully integrated stack of business hardware and software systems that helps organizations overcome complexity and unleash innovation. Check out their Optimize with Oracle group on GovLoop.

GovLoop’s mission is to “connect government to improve government.” We aim to inspire public sector professionals by serving as the knowledge network for government. GovLoop connects more than 65,000 members, fostering cross-government collaboration, solving common problems and advancing government careers. GovLoop is headquartered in Washington D.C with a team of dedicated professionals who share a commitment to connect and improve government.

HOW ORACLE EMPOWERS GREAT CITIZEN EXPERIENCES: Oracle’s Customer Experience strategy outlines how organizations can rise to meet customers’ expectations for superior levels of service by delivering consistent, relevant, and personalized citizen experiences across all interaction channels. Oracle helps organizations fulfil customer expectations, empower employees with consistent and real-time knowledge, and gain deeper insight into conditions impacting organization mission while simultaneously increasing productivity and reducing costs.


Oracle Industry Perspective

This industry perspective was written by Kim Truong, GovLoop 2013 Summer Research Fellow.For more information about this report, please reach out to Pat Fiorenza, Senior Research Analyst, GovLoop, at, or follow him on twitter: @pjfiorenza. GovLoop 734 15th St NW, Suite 500 Washington, DC 20005 Phone: (202) 407-7421 Fax: (202) 407-7501 Twitter: @GovLoop

Integrating Multichannel Communication in Government Customer Service  
Integrating Multichannel Communication in Government Customer Service  

Customer service in the public sector is central to both an effective government and a well-functioning society. Providing the right service...