Tag Archives: customer experience

Using Human-Centered Design (HCD) Approach to Improve Your Government Contact Center’s Experience

Every interaction the taxpayer has with the government is a touch point that shapes their impression on the quality of service received based on a positive or negative experience. The contact centers for government are an integrated platform that provides taxpayers and their family members with accurate information about services and information that can provide taxpayers with their desired requests. Rather than government leaders improving solutions that seem accurate to taxpayers, there has been a commitment to creating ideas that better meet taxpayer’s needs by developing processes and tools tailored to their specific needs. To understand the needs of taxpayers, contact center leaders are standardizing the approach by using the human-centered design (HDC) technique. To best serve the taxpayers and create that emotional connection immediately, government leaders must understand the needs of the taxpayers by hearing about the good and bad experiences occurring with every single touch point occurring.

Human-centered design thinkers use a tool called a design artifact (physical model) to aid in communicating, exploring, and defining solutions. Government leaders have created a unique design artifact, the customer journey map, to allow leadership and employees to gain a deeper perspective of what the taxpayer is experiencing and feeling at each stage of their life journey. The results of honing in on the needs of the taxpayers will provide seamless, emotionally connected interactions to events that have been identified (by using HCD), as “moments that matter.” The “moments that matter” are moments that can have a significant impact on the taxpayer’s experience that directly connects to government’s contact centers. Creating that immediate emotional connection with the caller is essential in ensuring the experience is a not only positive but meets the needs of the taxpayer.

Government contact centers have historically struggled with gaining positive taxpayer’s satisfaction due to long wait times, inability to get connected, and inaccurate information all contributing to the lack of trust in government’s ability to care for them. To build confidence, make a connection, and provide accurate information, government leaders must understand thoroughly what makes a taxpayers tick and ensure the communication is clear in the minds of the taxpayers and the service rendered yields a positive experience. When looking through the lens of the human-centered design approach, government leaders can gain insight through direct observation or surveys of what the taxpayer likes or dislikes, what was confusing or what was clear, and figure out how to develop an internal process that can meet their needs. Improving the process, also known as lean management, is a critical output to the problems defined when taking the perspective of taxpayers into consideration.

Customer Service Versus Customer Experience: What’s The Difference…And Why It Matters

Reblog article: September 24, 2015 by Bruce Jones, Programming Director, Disney Institute

In case you’ve missed it, the term “customer experience” is everywhere in business these days. In fact, some experts have declared that focusing on the customer experience has become the single most important factor for an organization to achieve business success—creating a significant point of differentiation and competitive advantage.

But, what exactly is customer experience? How does it differ from customer service? And, how focused or concerned should your business or organization be about it? These are all great questions we hear from participants in our professional development training courses, so we thought this was a great opportunity to dive a little deeper.

First, let’s start by defining customer experience. According to Harvard Business Review, it can be defined as “the sum of all interactions a customer has with a company.” This can include everything from a customers initial awareness or discovery of a company, product or service, through the purchase and use of that’s company’s products or services. Together, these all add up to the critical moments—what we call touchpoints—that create an organization’s overall customer experience.

Then, to better understand what customer experience is (and isn’t)…consider this story about a car dealership we worked with several years ago. Although sales were solid, management was concerned that their customers and employees were not happy. So, we worked with their team to help them intentionally create, design, and implement an experience that would exceed customer expectations at every key touchpoint. By helping them think differently about aligning the entire organization – the employees, the processes, and the physical plant itself – around the customer experience, the results were dramatic, increasing sales by 26 percent over the past few years.

The key learning, we have found, is that “customer service” is too often thought of as a specific department, rather than as a core value and strategic imperative, owned by the entire organization. Consider that the traditionally defined “service department” could soon be obsolete, because there are so many interactions consumers have with your business before, during, and after any one specific touchpoint.

“Customer experience”, on the other hand, encompasses every aspect of a company’s offerings—from the quality of its customer care to its reputation management, marketing, packaging, product and service features, ease of use, reliability and beyond. As we like to say at Disney, while no one “owns the Guest,” someone, in every case, “owns the moment.”

Today, this distinction is more important than ever, especially if organizations want to continue to differentiate themselves from their competition. Customer experience must be understood and approached holistically, with those responsible for each area of a company’s offerings giving intentional thought and focus on how their decisions will shape and impact the overall customer experience.

So, there you have it. Customer experience goes beyond customer service alone, and is far more than any single leader, employee, or department. It’s about truly understanding your customer as segments and as individuals, architecting a plan for delivering exceptional experiences, and then empowering employees to deliver it across all touchpoints. And, it’s about developing leaders to reinforce the beliefs and behaviors that support exceptional customer experience.

Bottom line, if your organization wants to advance its customer experience, you must make it a strategic business priority.

Welcoming & Innovative Cities Are Creating Digital Strategies to Improve Customer Interactions

The internet changed things to the point where the world cannot even imagine going back in time and possibly living without the convenience afforded by it. Everything and every aspect of our lives was influenced by the internet, shaped and molded by it. And then technology took a step further and beyond.

Usually termed as the internet 2.0, mobile devices have removed the restriction of the internet from being a remote portal on our desktops, to an everyday need within the palm of our hands, and on the tip of our fingers, literally. From online browsing and emails to online transactions and messaging, our social interaction with loved ones and complete strangers has never been more important.

So important, that the governments of various developed states are acknowledging the need for development of a more friendly and interactive experience with their present and potential citizens and business customers. For example, the government of New Zealand is no different and has made a statement of intent to improve the interaction of their government with their citizens and business customers by delivering better public services that are mostly used in a digital environment and providing the completion of transactions online easily and conveniently.

There are many other benefits to be realized other than satisfied citizens and business customers. The recently appointed CEO of the Australian federal government’s Digital Transformation Office (DTO), Paul Shetler, revealed at a “Technology in Government” conference in Canberra, that digital interactions between citizens and government agencies could save costs of up to $20 billion. The figures were cited in a research conducted by Deloitte and could help improve other governments who are cost restrained and would like to improve further digital interaction with their citizens.

Accenture, a global brand, conducted a citizen survey back in 2013, that showed a high correlation between the overall satisfaction experienced with public services and use of digital channels. The design needs to be focused on mobile technology as more than half of the world’s population is connected through their mobile devices.

Many companies have shifted their focus on such initiatives, but by and large the majority has yet to do so. Developing countries that have bigger populations that are connected through their mobile devices, have governments that have yet to realize the potential in developing digital channels for presenting their services.

Rosetta Carrington Lue is the City of Philadelphia first Chief Customer Officer. She is a dynamic leader in the fields of Customer Experience Management, Strategy and Technology, Social Media and Community Engagement in both public and private sectors.

Here We Grow! City of Philadelphia @Philly311 Receives 2015 CRM Excellence Award

Congratulations to the City of Philadelphia Philly311 Contact Center for being awarded the 2015 CRM Excellence Award.

Thanks to the great staff at Philly311 who continues to set the bar for customer service excellence at a high level in local government.

“The 2015 CRM Excellence Award winners have been chosen on the basis of their product or service’s ability to help extend and expand the customer relationship to become all encompassing, covering the entire enterprise and the entire customer lifecycle. Based on hard data, facts and figures, each CRM Excellence Award winner has demonstrated the improvements their products have made in their clients’ businesses.

‘The 2015 CRM Excellence Award winners are industry leaders in CRM products and services who have demonstrated a commitment to their customers and clients. All of the winners have substantially improved the processes of their clients’ businesses by streamlining and facilitating the flow of information needed for companies to retain customers,’ said Rich Tehrani, CEO, TMC (News – Alert).”

View additional information about the award here:  http://cloud-computing.tmcnet.com/news/2015/04/30/8183290.htm

Former 311 Executive Appointed as 1st State of NY Customer Experience Director

I was very excited to learn a NYC311 executive recently landed a critical role to lead the customer experience for the Governor of New York Andrew M. Cuomo. This cabinet level appointment continues to solidify the movement across all levels of government to engage, connect, and continue to improve the customer experience interactions.

Let’s give Saadia a big round of applause. Best wishes and much success in your new role.

As government continues to drive towards becoming customer-centric and collaborative organizations, recruitment of senior leadership with customer experience expertise will be in demand. According to author Jeanne Bliss, the goals of the Customer Experience Officer are to:

Engage the organization in managing customer relationships.
Create a persistent focus on the customer in the actions the company takes.
Drive the organization to work together for optimum customer experience delivery.
Support leaders in their role as cultural leaders in the transformation journey.
I look forward to seeing more cabinet level (C-suite) customer experience leadership appointment announcements in government.

Saadia Chaudhry has been appointed Director of Customer Experience for the Executive Chamber. In this role, she will help drive a range of high-priority projects to improve customer service for citizens and businesses. Previously, she held a number of positions at New York City’s 311 Contact Center, most recently as Customer Strategy Director, overseeing all aspects of customer experience and quality across multi-channel platforms, and, prior, as Contact Center Director and Director of Training & Quality. Ms. Chaudhry has a B.S. from Binghamton University.

Governor Cuomo Announces Administration Appointment
https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-administration-appointments-16

NY Governor’s Opportunity Agenda Book (see page 33) http://nysbroadband.ny.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2015_Opportunity_Agenda_Book.pdf

How to Modernize Government Using Open Data Sources

In a previous blog post about modernizing government, I talked about why open data matters, and how it can be a tool of democracy. In today’s post I want to focus on open sources and some of the opposition posed towards open source development models. Open source as a development model, and having open data, is important for local government 3-1-1s because it helps provide more access to municipal information, demonstrates trends in the community, and supports accountability.

It’s not unusual for people to get these two confused, so lets start with some definitions courtesy of (fan favorite) Wikipedia:

Open Data: “Open data is the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.”

Open Source: “In production and development, open source as a development model promotes a universal access via a free license to a product’s design or blueprint, and universal redistribution of that design or blueprint, including subsequent improvements to it by anyone.”

Like providing open data, using an open source digital strategy supports a transparent culture–especially for 3-1-1 systems–but also allows agencies to receive the benefits of an open source process. Govloop, in a documentation that highlights government trends, outlines the importance of open source in government nicely, saying, “Open source development accelerates government’s digital transformation by allowing agencies to reap the benefits of others’ progress. Secondly, it creates a transparent process that can foster public faith in these new initiatives…an open source approach ensures that digital initiatives will be maximally effective because it provides channels for users to report bugs and provide suggestions for improvement.” In summary, open source models allow both internal and external customers the ability to provide real-time feedback, which is valuable to all parties. What this looks like within a 3-1-1 environment, for example, is having the ability to see when a service requested has been received by a department, or having real-time dashboards that show what type of requests are being taken.

Like any model, open source has its critics. However, the primary criticism of open source is more conceptual than anything else, and rests in both theoretical incongruence, when applied to government, and cultural opposition. Ephemeral Journal published a compelling article by Nathaniel Tkacz on this very subject: “From Open Source to Open Government: A critique of open politics.” Tkacz points out that the idea of openness within a political sphere is rarely examined semantically and, in practice, political openness establishes a sensibility amongst citizens without defining limitations.

You can see how this could potentially be problematic for local government, but let’s not disregard our own democratic structure. If we view government as an entity that drives social change through democracy, than we must view the “(re)emergence of ‘the open,’” as Tkacz calls it, as a reflection of the government’s soci-transformative nature. Modernizing government also requires adapting to modern ideas. Promoting universal access is necessary because democracy requires informed citizens. The goal of any 3-1-1 is to serve the customer, and to provide them with tools that empower them. Open data is a tool that empowers citizens. In this way, an open source approach is both necessary and important for 3-1-1, and should be a priority for all branches of government.

Creating a Connected City in Today’s Ever-Evolving World

Argyle Executive Forum Journal article. Published: APRIL 1, 2015

Rosetta Lue, Chief Customer Service Officer & 311 Contact Center Operations Director, City of Philadelphia sat down with Argyle to discuss the in’s and out’s of running customer service for a city.

In today’s society, how do you create a connected city?

There are multiple levels to creating a truly connected city. We are working through public private partnerships to leverage technology and all available resources to make our services innovative, accessible, more efficient, and adaptable based on customer needs.

Another element of a connected city is that city departments can talk to each other easily and effectively to provide high quality service to our citizens. In our newly upgraded Customer Relationship Management solution, City agencies are better able to work together, with real-time information updates, creating more accountability and increasing the completion rate of service requests and customer satisfaction.

How have you expanded customer service into the community?

The design of our digital service platform is entirely based on our customers. In order to improve customer service in the City of Philadelphia we identify and engage with our target audience, establish a strategic plan, listen to the community’s feedback, and adjust our process accordingly.

In the same spirit, we have community engagement programs that operate in the community, like the Neighborhood Liaison Program. The Neighborhood Liaison Program, a community empowerment program within Philly311, we are able to encourage citizens to utilize 311’s services while educating them on how to get the most out of our system they in turn share that information with their neighbors, family and friends. With this program, we can connect influencers with each other through trainings and workshops. The Neighborhood Liaison program empowers citizens with tools to interact with their government and get problems resolved.

“We are working through public private partnerships to leverage technology and all available resources to make our services innovative, accessible, more efficient, and adaptable based on customer needs.”
When it comes to customer service initiatives, why it is important to have them?

In city government, we understand that the citizen is our customer, and using those terms as synonyms, have reoriented our overall framework. The citizens’ customer experience expands beyond providing city services, it is about how they feel from the time they submit a request to the time that request has been completed.

Customer experience is frequently lumped in with customer service; (though it is the foundation of it) customer experience is the long game. Customer experience is the total experience, and every interaction the customer has with the supplier. As a city contact center, customer experience becomes all encompassing. The citizen’s experience often goes hand in hand with their experience with all city services and not just the call center itself. Every improvement we make for our customer affects their quality of life.

What are important things to consider when building partnerships?

Especially with the implementation of the new customer management system, our partners have played a significant role in helping us move towards our goals this year. Government has limited resources, which is why partnerships are so important. When working with external organizations it is important to keep in mind that organizations mission and goals and make sure it aligns with our own. We try to identify and respond to the needs of the groups we work with and value its input in planning and decision-making.

For both partners and customers, we focus on transparency, efficiency and effectiveness – a top priority of Mayor Nutter and his administration. It is an important aspect of why we want to provide the highest quality customer experience possible.

“Customer experience is frequently lumped in with customer service; (though it is the foundation of it) customer experience is the long game. “
How has the government effectively used social media in emergencies?

Every day we at Philly 311 have a duty to provide citizens with factual information and critical answers about City services, but when the City is facing a crisis, the importance of that information is magnified. Citizens look to the City for guidance, and we provide it. One of the most efficient ways to do this is through our social media channels.

One example is snow emergencies. During major snow events the contact center often remains open 24-7 to handle in high call volume. 311 uses social media to answer frequently asked questions, providing citizens with relevant information before they ask for it. We know the information citizens need during these types of emergencies, for example, we have seen from experience that they want to know about parking, street cleaning, and trash collection. This information is easy to share on our social media, and through our social media working groups we are able to multiply the potential audience reached with this information by coordinating strategic and intentional messages so citizens know how to react in these situations without submitting information requests.

Hurricane Sandy is another example of an emergency situation that we were able to respond to effectively. In Philadelphia during Hurricane Sandy, public transportation was shut down, Philadelphia International airport suspended flights, and all major highways were closed. At Philly311, we had a plan ahead of time. Working with city departments, such as the Office of Emergency Management, we were able to collect data and stay up-to-date on the progress of the storm. We established a strategy ahead of time and were prepared to deliver accurate information through multiple channels, including our social media accounts.

Do you have any last thoughts that you would like to share?

One of our goals is to reach and engage our citizens on channels they are comfortable using. The Philly311 app makes our services more accessible to diverse audiences. Research by the PEW Foundation and others, suggests that many low income citizens do not have internet access in their home but do have internet on their smart phones. We want everyone to be able to use 311, which is why we have so many channels, including the call-in and walk-in centers for more tradition communications. We also provide language services in 17 different languages on the app, which increases accessibility. We want to make sure that all citizens have positive and productive interactions with local government.

What is your organization doing to create connected customers in today’s ever evolving world? I would love to hear your feedback on this topic.