Much has been written about the importance of customer service, but the focus is typically on examples from industries in the private sector such as cable & telecom, financial services, retail or utilities. While customer service in the government sector is given less attention, it is of no less importance. A customer’s expectation for accurate, efficient and helpful service does not change just because one is speaking to a government agency rather than a department store or a cable operator. In fact, expectations may be even greater because it’s the customer’s tax dollars at work!
So, where do you begin to assess whether your federal, state or local agency is meeting your customers’ needs? The contact center is a great place to start. More often than not, this is the critical touch point that creates and nurtures customer relationships with your agency. Those contacts leave an indelible impression about the quality of your customer service. Consider these questions as you assess the level of service your agents are providing your customers:
1. Are we accurately and quickly addressing the customer’s issue?
- Do we solve the problem completely?
- Are we courteous and respectful?
- Do we provide accurate information?
- Are we efficient or do we waste our customer’s time?
2. Are we making it easy for the customer?
- Do we transfer them multiple times and/or unnecessarily?
- Do we use terminology they understand?
- Are we available when they need us?
- Do we solve their problem with one call?
3. Are we providing a differentiated experience?
- Do we express empathy?
- Do we control the call and take responsibility for its outcome?
- Do we provide a personalized experience, offering customer-specific information?
- Do we confirm that the client’s issue has been resolved?
- Do we provide a “wow” experience when it matters?
A large U.S. federal agency sought to deliver an enhanced customer experience by improving the efficiency and effectiveness of their contact centers. The agency engaged Northridge to assess and redesign their current agent evaluation program, as well as provide ongoing Quality Monitoring (QM) services for their multi-lingual contact center agents.
In a collaborative approach, Northridge redesigned and successfully implemented an enhanced evaluation program that now focuses not only on agent behavior but also on the agency’s overall customer service performance. The new program focused on seven critical behaviors that would lead to enhanced customer service. The agency has seen improvement in each of the behaviors.
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