Is Your Government Contact Center ISO Certified? Why Not!

CX is critical for customer and employee engagement so knowing the current state of CX is important. Many organizations don’t do this, don’t know how or cannot afford to do so for time and cost reasons.  How can this be resolved?  Get your government contact center a prestigious designation with the ISO 18295 certification.

What is ISO?  International Standards for Organizations (ISO) International Organization for Standardization develop and publish International Standards. International Standards make things work. They give world-class specifications for products, services, and systems, to ensure quality, safety, and efficiency.

Why an ISO 18295 certified is important for government contact centers? 

  • Measure productivity in service delivery across all of the government.
  • Apply consistency of benchmarking data, performance metrics, digital engagement, staff training, and technology to access customer experience results with other government customer contact centers.
  • Create value for the customer, the community, the employee, and customer contact centers.
  • Deploy strategic tools that reduce costs by minimizing waste and errors and increasing productivity.
  • Improving the efficiency of the service and the client or customer contact center relationship.
  • Demonstrates that you have an effective quality management system in place and firm control over your processes and procedures.

Zainuddin Hussein, Chair of ISO/PC 273, the project committee in charge of ISO 18295 (Requirements for Customer Contact Centers), said it considered and addressed many customer concerns when developing the standards, such as waiting times, means of contacting the company and customer experience expectations.

“The committee established that there are already some regulations and national standards present in some countries,” he said, “and our research showed that where they were implemented, customer satisfaction improved.

“The new standards bring together international best practices that can improve the service offering and customer experience even more, while also providing a framework on which future national standards can be based.”

ISO 18925 International Organization for Standardization specifies requirements and gives guidance for in-house contact centers and outsourced contact centers. It is intended to be used for any customer interaction with a Customer Contact Center (CCC).

This standard can be applied by organizations both in-house (captive) and outsourced (third party operator) Customer Contact Centers of all sizes, across all sectors and all interaction channels, including inbound and outbound. It specifies performance metrics (KPIs) as and where required.

Key global principles in standard development for contact centers:

1. ISO standards respond to a need in the market
ISO does not decide when to develop a new standard but responds to a request from industry or other stakeholders such as consumer groups. Typically, an industry sector or group communicates the need for a standard to its national member who then contacts ISO.

2. ISO standards are based on global expert opinion
ISO standards are developed by groups of experts from all over the world, that are part of larger groups called technical committees.

3. ISO standards are developed through a multi-stakeholder process
The technical committees are made up of experts from the relevant industry, but also from consumer associations, academia, NGOs and government.

4. ISO standards are based on a consensus
Developing ISO standards is a consensus-based approach and comments from all stakeholders are taken into account.

How do you get started to become certified and accredited to meet the ISO 18295 contact center requirements?

Many companies hire a consultant to get outside help to manage the certification process. With the right preparation and a good understanding of what is required for ISO 18295:2017 certification, most organizations can expect to achieve certification within 3 to 6 months depending on their size and complexity.

IMPORTANCE OF AN OPERATIONAL AUDIT IN A GOVERNMENT CONTACT CENTER

According to the Institute of Internal Auditor, an operational audit is a systematic process of assessing an organization’s effectiveness, efficiency, and economy of operations under the influence of the management and giving details of the evaluation and recommendations to suitable persons. An operational audit has a number of objectives that define the importance attributed to conducting it on a government contact center. Some of these benefits include:

  1. Influence a positive change: Conducting operations audit for government contact centers assists its management to understand how future processes and policies will bring about maximum efficiency. An operations audit assists in developing clearly defined aims and strategies that will make the contact center a high performing one. An operations audit entails verifying written policies and procedures for operations.

For instance, the procedure by which employees are placed on shift sessions is evaluated. Assessing each process to determine if any of them should be combined or scrapped is also important. When these instances have been sufficiently sorted out by the operations audit, the path to positive change isn’t a lengthy and difficult journey any longer.

The employee turnover is another measure to demonstrate a positive change in a contact center. Fortunately, an operations audit evaluates this factor. When an employee has a high turnover, it may be that the manager has inadequate supervisory skills. Organizing seminars and workshops for these supervisors may help in improving the employee’s turnover.

  1. Review Internal Controls: In the accounting department, internal control is a term used to describe the processes that ensure organizational aims have a positive impact on operational efficiency, reliability of financial reporting and is in compliance with rules and policies. Internal controls provide an avenue by which organizational resources are allocated, monitored, and assessed. Internal controls help in protecting organizational resources and identifying fraudulent schemes.

The Foreign Corrupt Practices Act (FCPA) of 1977 and the Sarbanes–Oxley Act of 2002 posted that there is a need to improve internal controls in public corporations including government contact centers. Truly, many a time the internal controls need improvement. However, these internal controls are key elements of the operational audit. Hence, getting to assess those internal controls helps the organization improve its performance.

  1. Understand Risks: There are several risks that are susceptible to occurring during operational hours. These risks may include errors committed by personnel, IT system failure, network interruption, safety and health matters, fraud, and litigation amongst others. There may not be a definite stop to these risks, but operational audit gives us an insight into how these could happen. When a government contact center employs agents, they are given access to sensitive information about the citizens.

Contact centers often have a high turnover and average attrition which is put at about 30% in the United States. Additionally, the employees at government call centers are mostly entry-level workers. An operational audit helps the management to understand how all these threats to the security of citizen’s information may be mitigated and avoided.

Discover areas that need improvement Opportunities: A consequence of understanding risk is the recognition of faulty areas where improvement is needed. There are various forms of risk – financial risk, operational risk, environmental risk, and reputational risk. Operational audits allow the auditors to determine these risks and thus, discover opportunities to do forestall them. Conducting a regular operations audit on government contact centers allows auditors to determine how these centers can improve their services and prevent risks such as network interruption, fraud, and theft of information from happening. Every operational audit brings with it an opportunity to make positive changes and improvements, no matter how small. Thus, the role of operational audits in a high performing government contact center cannot be overlooked.

How To Exceed Your Government CX Contact Center via Benchmarking

Background story: 

I recently met with Cynthia, a Senior Government Contact Center Leader, who was at her wits end trying to manage the agency’s initiative to transform and modernize the contact center as part of her performance expectations.  Cynthia was familiar with the buzz words around “customer experience” but was struggling to decide how to prioritize and build a business case for change.  She didn’t know what “specific problem she was trying to solve” but knew she had to show she was doing something to improve the customer experience.  “Journey mapping, multi or omnichannel communications, CRM, IVR, data visualization, AI, knowledge management, etc. What should I do?”

My Response:  Step back and begin with a Contact Center Audit, Assessment, and Benchmarking initiative to roadmap where you should start the contact center’s transformation and modernization journey,

I explained to Cynthia that it’s critical to understand the current contact center customer experience environment and the future (vision) environment to identify gaps in the operations.  In addition to understanding customer experience operational gaps in the contact center, benchmarking other government operations to improve their customer’s digital experience and agency’s service delivery performance.

Let’s discuss why benchmarking is important

For an agency contact center to transform and modernize, there is a need to evaluate the performance against that of other government contact center establishments. Although a government may not be in competition with regards to the citizens it cares for, there is a need to benchmark the performance of a contact center against another.

As such, government contact centers can quantitatively evaluate the difference in performance level with other reputable call center agencies. Consequently, government contact centers can set customer experience goals and objectives which can serve as motivation for employees to work to the highest standard.

The importance of benchmarking government contact centers includes:

  1. Evaluate the success of your customer experience improvement initiatives: What is the point of making improvements in certain areas and not having to know whether it was successful? Benchmarking helps to create a status quo towards which the success of a government contact center is measured against customer service standards and to understand your position against world best practice.
  2. Gain an insight into other government contact center standard practices: A government contact center trying to compare its success with that of a corporate contact center is futile. It is a lot more beneficial to know what other governments are doing, especially those setting the pace. The failures and successes of a government contact center may help others learn and improve their policies and procedures.
  3. Rate customer experience channels performance objectively: Conducting customer surveys and using certain operational metrics speaks volumes about the performance of an organization. However, it is not enough since a government contact center may not be performing up to international standards. Hence, benchmarking leads government contact centers to rate their performance about similar organizations, rather than having the performance score based on internal assessment tools alone.  The findings from a study indicate that institutions that pay more attention to great customer experience will have a 30-50% more chance to get recommended by its customers. This metric is subjective and it is derived by requesting that customers complete a survey where answers have scores ranging from 1-5, 1-10 or Very Satisfied – Not satisfied.

I also recommended for Cynthia to work independently certified government customer experience professional.  They bring industry experience and knowledge to the table, enabling her to navigate the assessment process in record time by supporting management. They are experts at identifying and anticipating opportunities for growth, staff development, cost reductions, increased productivity and technology improvement within your organization. Ultimately leading to cohesion within teams and customer service delivery support, they add tangible value to the assessment process.

Next Blog:  What’s Included In A Government Audit and Assessment Report

Author Rosetta Carrington Lue is a pioneer in the field of Government Customer Experience Management and has devoted an entire career to bettering the lives of everyone around her through her work. She is right at home as the CEO of GovCX Professionals (www.govcxprofessionals) where she spends her time focused on building a welcoming, innovative, and engaging government customer experience.

Using User Design for Government Digital CX

Let’s be clear about my position – the government will better serve all stakeholders by establishing a focus to oversee the design and implementation of a human-centered design-centric digital strategy that:

The Business Case for Using HCD:

  • Streamlines, integrates, and scales websites and call centers consistently over time,
  • Takes a holistic, iterative approach to prioritizing improvements across channels,
  • Maintains a mobile-experience first philosophy (people seeking information often use mobile devices first because they want information immediately, or rely on mobile exclusively because it is what they can afford),

Digital Customer Experience Values and Benefits:

  • Uses clear, concise, and consistent language and messaging across all channels,
  • Identifies and responds to key touchpoints in a stakeholder’s journey,
  • Establishes a feeling of trust by providing consistent experiences across channels to different stakeholders, and
  • Firmly focuses on the future by laying the groundwork to integrate social media and emerging technologies in later phases of the project.

I am a staunch believer and GovCX Practitioner who understands leading a human-centered design change initiative requires vision and broad oversight to bring stakeholders, products, technical processes, and communication into alignment.

Jane – Typical Government Customer:

For example, picture Jane, a retiree who needs help. She goes to one website on her phone to get information fast, but it doesn’t help. Later she visits another site on her laptop and can see it better, but finds additional information, organized in a new way, and described with a different language.

Jane doesn’t know what to do or trust, so she tries a call center looking for a person to talk to instead. The wait times are long because so many others are having the same problems. When she finally gets through, the call center staff wants to help but they talk about services and options in yet another way.

Jane is distressed by her experience across siloed channels. She encounters disconnected technologies, has to translate between different language use, and finds that information is inconsistently organized or even offered to leave her frustrated and miserable. The call center staff who takes her call can hear that misery as it overflows into their conversation making the staffer’s job harder, the call longer, and both the financial and emotional costs higher for both.

Each time Jane’s journey plays out for another taxpayer or call center staffer, taxpayers lose confidence in the government agency and increase the costs of call center operations.

A single focus and oversight for government Contact Centers and the internet presence is a logical first step towards an improved Customer experience. Needed research must be conducted across channels and changes prioritized coherently across all platforms to maximize results. If the system is not treated as a whole, customer experience will continue to be fragmented and frustrating no matter how many isolated improvements are made over time.

A seamless experience requires a consistent approach to technological solutions, human needs, and organizational responses. The goal is to inspire taxpayer confidence and government efficiency by making it easy to start with a website, reach out to a call center if needed, and then complete tasks on the web when they are ready. In the future, integrating social media will increase responsiveness and better serve millennials and future generations.

A robust online database of Frequently Asked Questions can enhance customer experience based on insights from web analytics and call center topics. Web analytics and the call center knowledge management technology can be used to identify frequently accessed data, searches that come up empty, and how often users access particular information. In-depth interviews with call center personnel can shape resource allocation and better prepare them to address complex situations since the basics are covered in a searchable database.

Starting with aggregated website and call center data creates a solid foundation for human-centered research to address persistent pain points across channels then effectively design and deliver satisfying stakeholder experiences.

What if Jane went to a central website and found the basic information she needed quickly and easily? If she still wasn’t sure what to do in her situation, she could reach out to a call center. When she did, her wait time would be shorter since more people were finding what they needed on a streamlined easily searchable site that highlights frequently asked questions. Jane wouldn’t be so upset when she connected with a staff member, her questions could be answered more quickly, costs would go down, and Jane would regain confidence in the government agency. Later when it worked for her schedule, she could fill out any required forms on the website and get immediate confirmation that they were submitted. Now when Jane talks about the government agency she shares her experience. I get help when I need it, I get things done on my schedule, and I trust that the government agency has my back.

Conclusion

Integrating processes, products, services, and content in an organization like a government agency takes time, vision, and leadership. Consolidating oversight with the right vision offers the best possible chance to successfully transition the taxpayers to a coherent seamless experience.

About me: I am a pioneer in the field of Government Customer Experience Management and have devoted an entire career to bettering the lives of everyone around me through my work. I am right at home as the CEO of GovCX Professionals where I am able to spend all my time focusing on establishing government and their partners with a building a welcoming, innovative, and engaging government customer service experience.

Celebrating 311 Day in Government

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In 2002, the City of Baltimore, led by Director Lisa N Allen, was the first city in the country to launch 311 as an intake center for all service request and requests for general information from citizens and visitors. Over the years, many cities and counties have modeled Baltimore’s 311 and have implemented 311 call centers internationally.

On March 11, 2019 local governments of all sizes are using this date – 3/11 – to showcase and to celebrate how they are using 311 and centralized contact centers to provide a coordinated and seamless approach to service delivery.

For many communities, contact centers have become the face of government to the public. With the implementation of 311 systems, digital and civic media, and apps which allow the public to make service requests and enables direct interact with government officials, local governments are setting new standards for customer/community participation.

I encourage city, county, state, and federal governments that are using 311 and centralized contact centers to use March 11 (3/11) as an opportunity to promote your efforts to provide for responsive service to the public.

311 Data Fuels Government Response & Transparency

From managing requests to running rich reports and engaging citizens regularly and during disasters, 311 data systems are evolving government operations.

Sourced through Scoop.it from: efficientgov.com

Customers are holding public sector agencies to service standards typically found in private industry. As a result, local governments are turning to innovative technology to keep up with rising service expectations.

311 systems offer local governments speed and insights that boost overall performance. They:

  • Enable citizens to submit requests from anywhere at any time
  • Provide location accuracy related to requests with GIS functionality
  • Mobilize information sharing across government departments
  • Account for service costs more accurately and timely

VA Contact Center Modernization Initiative – MyVA311 Launched!

VA Enterprise Contact Center Modernization Initiative

With approximately 272 national VA Contact Centers that receives almost 140 million annual calls and services 9 million Veterans, VA has had no consistent approach to customer service. VA studied the best practices of America’s top customer service organizations to learn how they excel at delighting customers. Based on that information and appointing a Responsible Officer to oversee the VA Secretary’s Contact Center Modernization transformation breakthrough initiative, we create a holistic frontline customer service program to make access to the care and services Veterans have earned predictable, consistent, and easy.

On Veteran’s Day 2016, VA launched the MyVA311 telephone platform: A unified and centralized enterprise wide approach that Veterans can use to easily find information via telephone.

VA introduced 1-844-MyVA311 (1-844-698-2311) as a go-to source for Veterans and their families who don’t know what number to call. This new national toll-free number will help eliminate the feeling of frustration and confusion that Veterans and their families have expressed when navigating the 1000-plus phone numbers that currently exist.

Veteran feedback has been instrumental helping us streamline the way we get callers routed to the right place at VA. With 1-844-MyVA311, Veterans, families, and caregivers can access information about VA services like disability, pension, healthcare eligibility, enrollment, and burial benefits, in addition to a self-service locator to find the nearest VA facility. And if they’re looking for immediate assistance with housing or are having a mental health crisis, MyVA311 will route callers to the Homeless Veteran help line and the Veterans Crisis Line.

VA is also making improvements to the overall Veteran experience eliminating blocked calls, leveraging new or existing call center technologies and hiring more people to reduce wait times and improve Veterans experience. We will continue to gather feedback from our Veterans to ensure VA is meeting their needs. The new MyVA311 phone number is just one step in a larger effort to modernize VA contact centers so Veterans have a seamless, positive experience.

Bringing Government Agency Contact Centers and the Internet Together for a Seamless Customer Experience

call-center-website

Taxpayers often turn to the government when they are overwhelmed and stressed out by personal circumstances. A fragmented experience across government websites compounds their distress both increasing the burden on call center staff and the cost of meeting taxpayers needs. A consistent, thoughtfully designed experience (starting with websites and contact centers) will make a tremendous difference in the lives of taxpayers and government employees.

The government agency will better serve all stakeholders by establishing a focus to oversee the design and implementation of a human-centered design centric strategy that:

  • identifies and responds to key touchpoints in a stakeholder’s journey
  • streamlines, integrates, and scales websites and call centers consistently over time
  • takes a holistic, iterative approach to prioritizing improvements across channels
  • maintains a mobile experience first philosophy (people seeking information often
  • use mobile devices first because they want information immediately, or rely on mobile exclusively because it is what they can afford)
  • uses clear, concise, and consistent language and messaging across all channels
  • establishes a feeling of trust by providing consistent experiences across channels to different stakeholders firmly focuses on the future by laying the groundwork to
  • integrate social media and emerging technologies in later phases of the project

Leading a human-centered design change initiative requires vision and broad oversight to bring stakeholders, products, technical processes, and communication into alignment.

Picture Jane, a retiree who needs help. She goes to one website on her phone to get information fast, but it doesn’t help. Later she visits another site on her laptop and can see it better, but finds additional information, organized in a new way, and described with different language.

Jane doesn’t know what to do or trust, so she tries a call center looking for a person to talk to instead. The wait times are long because so many others are having the same problems. When she finally gets through, the call center staff wants to help but they talk about services and options in yet another way.

Jane is distressed by her experience across siloed channels. She encounters disconnected technologies, has to translate between different language use, and finds that information is inconsistently organized or even offered — leaving her frustrated and miserable. The call center staff who takes her call can hear that misery as it overflows into their conversation making the staffer’s job harder, the call longer, and both the financial and emotional costs higher for both.

Each time Jane’s journey plays out for another taxpayer or call center staffer, taxpayers lose confidence in the government agency and increase the costs of call center operations.

A single focus and oversight for government Contact Centers and the internet presence is a logical first step towards an improved Customer experience. Needed research must be conducted across channels and changes prioritized coherently across all platforms to maximize results. If the system is not treated as a whole, customer experience will continue to be fragmented and frustrating no matter how many isolated improvements are made over time.

A seamless experience requires a consistent approach to technological solutions, human needs, and organizational responses. The goal is to inspire taxpayer confidence and government efficiency by making it easy to start with a website, reach out to a call center if needed, and then complete tasks on the web when they are ready. In the future, integrating social media will increase responsiveness and better serve millennials and future generations.

A robust online database of Frequently Asked Questions can enhance customer experience based on insights from web analytics and call center topics. Web analytics and the call center knowledge management technology can be used to identify frequently accessed data, searches that come up empty, and how often users access particular information. In depth interviews with call center personnel can shape resource allocation and better prepare them to address complex situations since the basics are covered in a searchable database.

Starting with aggregated website and call center data creates a solid foundation for human-centered research to address persistent pain points across channels then effectively design and deliver satisfying stakeholder experiences.

What if Jane went to a central website and found the basic information she needed quickly and easily? If she still wasn’t sure what to do in her situation, she could reach out to a call center. When she did, her wait time would be shorter since more people were finding what they needed on a streamlined easily searchable site that highlights frequently asked questions. Jane wouldn’t be so upset when she connected with a staff member, her questions could be answered more quickly, costs would go down, and Jane would regain confidence in the government agency. Later when it worked for her schedule, she could fill out any required forms on the website and get immediate confirmation that they were submitted. Now when Jane talks about the government agency she shares her experience — I get help when I need it, I get things done on my schedule, and I trust that the government agency has my back.

Integrating processes, products, services, and content in an organization like a government agency takes time, vision, and leadership. Consolidating oversight with the right vision offers the best possible chance to successfully transition the taxpayers to a coherent seamless 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.

Why You Should Celebrate 2016 National Customer Service Week Oct 3rd – 9th!

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In the words of Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin, “Well done is better than well said.” The idea of customer service is often reserved to describe interaction with stores, restaurants, and other organizations in the private sector. Rarely do we hear people say “Wow, I had a great experience dealing with the staff at any government agency!” Fortunately, those outside of government might be surprised at how seriously excellence in service delivery is taken in the public sector.

Let’s take a look at national Customer Service Week which was created by 1992 by the President of the United States, citing the value of service excellence in a free market economy.

The President’s proclamation said:

A business will do a better job of providing high-quality goods and services by listening to its employees and by empowering them with opportunities to make a difference. Customer service professionals work in the front lines where a firm meets its customers; where supply meets demand. With responsive policies and procedures and with simple courtesy, customer service professionals can go a long way toward ensuring customer satisfaction and eliciting the next round of orders and purchases. The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 166, has designated the week of October 4 through October 10, 1992, as “National Customer Service Week” and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this week.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the week of October 4 through October 10, 1992, and the first week of October in subsequent years, as National Customer Service Week. I invite all Americans to observe this week with appropriate programs and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and seventeenth.

George H. Bush

Across the country, including the federal government agencies, there is a movement to improve the delivery of information and service to those in need.

During the first week of October 2016, they are making Benjamin Franklin proud by not just talking about customer service but actually doing something (many things actually) to make sure our customers are properly “served.”