government call centers

Top Customer Service Issues and CustomerServ’s Call Center Expertise in Government Services

CustomerServ’s Outsourced Government Call Centers Bridge the Service Delivery Gap

The customer service bar has been set high by leading brands in the private sector, and the public has come to expect similar experiences when dealing with other types of organizations, including government agencies. Government leaders have long recognized the gap that exists between the public and private sectors when it comes to customer experience. In 2011, former President Barack Obama took initial steps to close it when he directed agencies to improve service to citizens.

Since then, progress has been slow as government agencies continue to struggle with budget constraints, antiquated technology and bureaucratic processes. In 2017, federal agencies accounted for five of the 10 worst customer service providers across 21 industries, according to a report by the Government Business Council/DocuSign. The 2018 American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) confirmed that the federal government lagged 7 to 8 points behind the national average across all industries.

Upgrading the customer experience will require agencies to make significant strides to improve in all three intertwined areas that are integral to delivering effective service—people, process and technology. Yet current challenges within each area highlight the critical differences that exist between private and public service operations:

  • People: Government employees are approaching retirement age. Analysis by Politico has found that more than one-quarter of federal workers are older than 55. As veteran subject-matter experts begin stepping down, agencies will be left with knowledge and experience gaps. Yet working for the government does not appeal to younger generations. Only 17% of federal workers are under 35 years old vs. 40% in the private sector. Research has shown that millennials gravitate toward companies where they can work with state-of-the-art technology and which provide development opportunities. To attract new talent and skills, government agencies will need to modernize systems and processes, and revamp recruiting and hiring strategies.
  • Process: The Federal government is comprised of a complex system of agencies whose functions overlap, but which operate in silos. Citizens’ interactions often cross multiple agencies, each with its own set of processes and requirements. Getting to a resolution can be a slow and frustrating experience. Streamlining customer service would require agencies to integrate information, processes and systems, but change on an interagency level is often hindered by complex regulations and red tape, which makes it difficult to execute.
  • Technology: Government agencies run on antiquated technology that is increasingly costly to maintain, leaving little funding for new systems. According to a report by the U.S. Government Accountability Office (GAO), the federal government spent more than 75% of its IT budget in 2015 maintaining legacy systems and less than 25% on developing, modernizing and enhancing systems. The report noted that, as spending to maintain aging systems continued to rise each year, spending on new systems decreased, which resulted in a $7.3 billion decline from 2010-2017.

Top Customer Service Challenges Facing Government Agencies

Over the past decade, call centers in the private sector have undergone sweeping changes to hiring processes, training, performance management and technology. While government agencies can look to private companies for effective service delivery models, budget constraints and the lack of flexibility to reallocate funds to customer service initiatives will impede the ability to provide the seamless experience that many private brands deliver.

Other customer service challenges facing government agencies include:

  • Meeting the rising expectations of its citizens. For younger generations, it’s almost unthinkable to be stuck in a phone queue for 30 minutes or longer or have to wade through mounds of interagency red tape and wait 30-60 days to resolve an issue.
  • Keeping pace with rapidly advancing technology. The digital age has created new channels for citizens to connect with government agencies, but the technology itself is not the solution for a better customer experience. Omnichannel service delivery requires well-thought-out processes and policies, integrated systems and cross-skilled call center agents.
  • Revising an outdated skills profile for service delivery. The federal government’s recruiting and hiring processes have remained mostly unchanged over the years. Meeting the customer service demands and expectations of today’s citizens calls for expanded skill sets and training in critical thinking, problem-solving skills and empathy.
  • Lack of leadership experienced in CX design and strategies. The customer experience profession is relatively new and evolving. CX leaders in the private sector tend to be entrepreneurial pioneers who have forged a path where one didn’t previously exist. However, the ability to formulate and drive CX initiatives requires data and an integrated analytics platform.
  • Ability to ramp up to meet seasonal volume increases (e.g., tax season) or unexpected volume spikes (e.g., weather-related emergencies, a health-related breakout, etc.).

CustomerServ’s Government Call Center Vendors Offer a Roadmap for Superior Service Delivery

CustomerServ’s government agency call center outsourcing providers have developed a proven roadmap for superior service delivery. Vendors’ expertise includes recruiting and hiring profiles for the right skills and behavioral traits, effective customer-centric training programs, compliance standards and protocols to fulfill federal and/or state regulations and directives, performance-oriented models to drive higher citizen satisfaction along with lower service costs, integrated platforms and tools to provide multichannel options, and feedback systems to collect customer experience data across channels.

CustomerServ’s call center vendors provide the following services for state and federal government agencies:

  • Federal emergency disaster relief
  • FNOL – First Notice of Loss
  • Claims and application processing
  • Inbound customer service
  • Outbound alerts and notifications
  • Emergency hotlines
  • Complaint hotlines
  • State healthcare exchange support
  • SMS, text, app and social media support
  • Technical support and help desk
  • Administrative and back office services
  • Government sponsored rebate and other programs
  • Secure contact centers – PCI, SSAE/SOCII, ISO
  • Adjudicated agents, full background check