What could happen if government viewed certain public sector challenges through the lens of customer experience? By changing the way people interact with a process rather than focusing solely on the process itself, agencies can broaden the range of available solutions.
Lean Management is a customer-centric methodology used to improve the current business process by using the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) technique. Following the DMAIC blueprint will provide organizations insight into what the actual root cause problem is by measuring and analyzing various data sets, and developing process flow maps to understand the “as is” state.
• Define: Understanding the problem through the outputs of the human-centered design research
• Measure: Measure data pulled from the contact centers
• Analyze: Analyze and determine the cause(s) of the defects (understanding the waste).
• Improve: Improve the process by eliminating defects (unnecessary steps, decreased wait times, and shorter scripts)
• Control: Control future process performance (governance through new policies and procedures)
The lean approach focuses on increasing taxpayer value by improving the processes associated with delivering high customer value. Using the problems defined through the human center design research will point government in the right direction to which processes it needs to begin to hone it on. The problems government thinks are pertinent, may not be relevant in the eyes of the taxpayer. The contact center, being one of the first touch points for a taxpayer, can be reengineered to run more effectively and efficiently by making the internal workflow of calls leaner. The “as is” process map is the starting point to improving services because it visualizes the current process allowing for a clear picture of evident breakdowns in the process.
Defining the problem with the contact center and understanding the process is one piece to the puzzle, the ability to measure, analyze and improve based on the data collected is a critical component to developing sustainable, scalable solutions. Analyzing the various data sets will allow designers to identify areas of waste in the process, ultimately improving the experience of the taxpayer while simultaneously decreasing internal costs for government. Often than not, the government will tack on more employees and additional resources to a problem that can be easily solved by redesigning the process to work more efficiently. The desired outcome is to develop a solution that will be sustainable for government and taxpayers in the future and not a stop-gap solution for today.
Improving how calls are routed, improving the verbiage in the scripts, shortening wait times, and upgrading data collection platforms are all interlocked in improving the taxpayer’s experience when interacting with the contact centers. The one common denominator for all this to be successful is data. Data will allow leadership to understand the pain points in the process and begin to take a proactive approach in improving the taxpayer’s experience. Lean methodologies break down each component of the process to ensure the internal value stream is being utilized effectively to increase customer satisfaction. Human center design thinking is instrumental in providing lean management with accurate taxpayer problems to lay the framework for business process improvements across all facets of the contact center.
I was recently asked in an interview with Govloop, a government focused social network and online publication, about how the City of Philadelphia is engaging citizens through digital services. Government is changing, and the conversation is no longer about why we need digital services for engagement initiatives, but how we can use them. The key to engaging citizens through digital services relies on getting to know your audience, having a strategic plan, using a wide range of channels to communicate with your customers, and listening to feedback.
The design of our digital service platform is entirely informed by customers. Both our internal and external customers’ wants and needs determine the service we will provide. Having a clear definition of your stakeholders, and framing your relationship around the question of, “how can we make you successful,” is pivotal.
In government, we have to be cautious about spending; as a result, the voice of the community must define what we prioritize in service. Like I mentioned in my interview, “We look at everything in order to define what we want to design…you have to bring the customer’s feedback to the table, not just the internal people. You need everyone’s ideas, but specifically you need to know what your customers want and then design something around meeting their needs.”
Data trends become more crucial when determining citizen needs. As citizens adapt to mobile lives, we see a need to meet the citizens where they are. Forty percent of Philadelphians do not have access to Internet in their homes; however, most have access to mobile devices. Knowing that we have to meet our customers, social media becomes an influential tool. For example, the City of Philadelphia Philly311’s Twitter and Facebook accounts, are able to connect with communities on an inherently social platform. Social media also offers us an opportunity to observe trends; what people are talking about, and what topics generate the most conversations. Being the 5th largest City in the US, means that individual communities have needs that are specific to that neighborhood. Monitoring social media is an excellent way to manage the various voices throughout the city.
In addition to social media, surveys are crucial in getting to know one’s audience. By taking surveys, we collect data that speaks specifically to issues. However, noticing trends, leveraging social media, and collecting data, means nothing if that information isn’t being put into action. Planning a communication strategy is imperative to creating a mainframe for the dialogue. Once you know what is working, creating a blueprint of how you got there, you can apply that template to other initiatives.
A CRM implementation is more of a cultural change than a technological change. That’s because adopting a new system requires changing habits, and changing habits is hard. It’s hard for those who want to change, let alone those who do not.
Most people demand change, but resist it when it comes. Resistance to change is natural, so it’s crucial to help CRM users through the process of embracing change. When it comes to CRM adoption, users need your help, they need your reinforcement, and they need that culture of accountability.
Here are four practical, actionable steps before, during and after the CRM launch.
1. Be Aware of Data Integrity
System-to-system consistency, or the integration of multiple systems, is crucial for a strong cadence and user adoption. If you’re migrating from one CRM to another, or merging CRMs, or changing CRM providers, ensuring the data is successfully merged and consistent is crucial to having data integrity. Without data integrity, this process often results in duplicate data, unstandardized or inconsistent data, and missing data. Preparing for these data mishaps in advance, as well as having tools in place to clean and prevent them from happening, will ensure CRM system integrity.
2. Be Clear About the Goal of CRM
Your CRM users are looking for the why behind the CRM system. If you’re not sharing this insight, you’re wasting your CRM investment because users simply won’t adopt it. Deliver clear rationale and a cause for your CRM. As a sales example, CRM gives users visibility that enables continuous sales improvement.
3. Hold CRM Users Accountable
It’s important to empower your CRM users, and CRM adoption should focus on that. However, empowerment without ownership is going to lead to neglect. You can give your users the most pristine, high-end CRM, but if they don’t care, they’re not going to use it. Establish the CRM users as the owners of the CRM, and then, in the context of ownership, empower them to use it. Otherwise, they’ll be negligent and passive.
4. Manage Detractors
If you’ve got ten sales reps using your new CRM, and eight of them are adopting it beautifully while two of them are struggling, you must work hard to get the two back on track. Stay strong and don’t lower your standard, or else the other eight are going to start to slack as well. By not diminishing your expectations, holding users accountable, and providing help and assistance, all 10 sales reps will be completely on board.
5. Demonstrate Real Results
Look for opportunities to showcase the relationship between CRM adoption and the positive sales performance that results from it. Explicitly call these results out when they happen. Here are three examples of these opportunities.
Sales reps quickly follow up on leads delivered in real-time via the CRM resulting in higher lead conversion. Call it out!
6. Provide Ongoing Support
Be extremely responsive to the sales reps’ questions and challenges, and try to support them in real-time. Refer them to your documentation and add their questions to your feedback list if you haven’t addressed it in your documentation.
7. Be Mobile
Reps do not want to have to go back to their desk and spend an hour everyday updating a CRM. This creates detractors. Allow users to update the CRM system in real-time, including while they’re in transit, when they’re coming out of a meeting, and so on. Mobile CRM enables users to access their CRM without pulling out a laptop and connecting to WiFi. Mobile deployment is a critical part of CRM user adoption.
8. Keep the User in Mind
Don’t introduce so much change that users can’t swallow it, and they can’t adopt it even if they wanted to. Pushing too hard or too much will deepen the mindset of existing detractors and create new ones. Your CRM success will only be as strong as the rate at which it can be adopted, not the rate at which it can be implemented.
The CRM adoption process is a journey, not a destination. When asked if the CRM adoption process is ever done, the answer is simply, “No, it’s not.”
I wanted to reblog this post by Tony Consentino, Ventana Research VP and Research Director, because it was very insightful and thought provoking. In summary, when using or talking about big data, one should think of terms “What, So what, Now what & Then what”.
The idea of not focusing on innovation is heretical in today’s business culture and media. Yet a recent article in The New Yorker suggests that today’s society and organizations focus too much on innovation and technology. The same may be true for technology in business organizations. Our research provides evidence for my claim.
My analysis on our benchmark research into information optimization shows that organizations perform better in technology and information than in the people and process dimensions. They face a flood of information that continues to increase in volume and frequency and must use technology to manage and analyze it in the hope of improving their decision-making and competitiveness. It is understandable that many see this as foremost an IT issue. But proficiency in use of technology and even statistical knowledge are not the only capabilities needed to optimize an organization’s use of information and analytics. They also need a framework that complements the usual analytical modeling to ensure that analytics are used correctly and deliver the desired results. Without a process for getting to the right question, users can go off in the wrong direction, producing results that cannot solve the problem.
In terms of business analytics strategy, getting to the right question is a matter of defining goals and terms; when this is done properly, the “noise” of differing meanings is reduced and people can work together efficiently. As we all know, many terms, especially new ones, mean different things to different people, and this can be an impediment to teamwork and achieving of business goals. Our research into big data analytics shows a significant gap in understanding here: Fewer than half of organizations have internal agreement on what big data analytics is. This lack of agreement is a barrier to building a strong analytic process. The best practice is to take time to discover what people really want to know; describing something in detail ensures that everyone is on the same page. Strategic listening is a critical skill, and done right it enables analysts to identify, craft and focus the questions that the organization needs answered through the analytic process.
To develop an effective process and create an adaptive mindset, organizations should instill a Bayesian sensibility. Bayesian analysis, also called posterior probability analysis, starts with assuming an end probability and works backward to determine prior probabilities. In a practical sense, it’s about updating a hypothesis when given new information; it’s about taking all available information and finding where it converges. This is a flexible approach in which beliefs are updated as new information is presented; it values both data and intuition. This mindset also instills strategic listening into the team and into the organization.
For business analytics, the more you know about the category you’re dealing with, the easier it is to separate what is valuable information and hypothesis from what is not. Category knowledge allows you to look at the data from a different perspective and add complex existing knowledge. This in and of itself is a Bayesian approach, and it allows the analyst to iteratively take the investigation in the right direction. This is not to say that intuition should be the analytic starting point. Data is the starting point, but a hypothesis is needed to make sense of the data. Physicist Enrico Fermi pointed out that measurement is the reduction of uncertainty. Analysts should start with a hypothesis and try to disprove it rather than to prove it. From there, iteration is needed to come as close to the truth as possible. Starting with a gut feel and trying to prove it is the wrong approach. The results are rarely surprising and the analysis is likely to add nothing new. Let the data guide the analysis rather than allowing predetermined beliefs to guide the analysis. Technological innovations in exploratory analytics and machine learning support this idea and encourage a data-driven approach.
Bayesian analysis has had a great impact not only on statistics and market insights in recent years, but it has impacted how we view important historical events as well. It is consistent with modern thinking in the fields of technology and machine learning, as well as behavioral economics. For those interested in how the Bayesian philosophy is taking hold in many different disciplines, I recommend a book entitled The Theory That Would Not Die by Sharon Bertsch McGrayne.
A good analytic process, however, needs more than a sensibility for how to derive and think about questions; it needs a tangible method to address the questions and derive business value from the answers. The method I propose can be framed in four steps: what, so what, now what and then what. Moving beyond the “what” (i.e., measurement and data) to the “so what” (i.e., insights) should be a goal of any analysis, yet many organizations are still turning out analysis that does nothing more than state the facts. Maybe 54 percent of people in a study prefer white houses, but why does anyone care?Analysis must move beyond mere findings to answer critical business questions and provide informed insights, implications and ideally full recommendations. That said, if organizations cannot get the instrumentation and the data right, findings and recommendations are subject to scrutiny.
The analytics professional should make sure that the findings, implications and recommendations of the analysis are heard by strategic and operational decision-makers. This is the “now what” step and includes business planning and implementation decisions that are driven by the analytic insights. If those insights do not lead to decision-making or action, the analytic effort has no value. There are a number of things that the analyst can do to make the information heard. A compelling story line that incorporates storytelling techniques, animation and dynamic presentation is a good start. Depending on the size of the initiative, professional videography, implementation of learning systems and change management tools also may be used.
The “then what” represents a closed-loop process in which insights and new data are fed back into the organization’s operational systems. This can be from the perspective of institutional knowledge and learning in the usual human sense which is an imperative in organizations. Our benchmark research into big data and business analytics shows a need for this: Skills and training are substantial obstacles to using big data (for 79%) and analytics (77%) in organizations. This process is similar to machine learning. That is, as new information is brought into the organization, the organization as a whole learns and adapts to current business conditions. This is the goal of the closed-loop analytic process.
Our business technology innovation research finds analytics in the top three priorities in three out of four (74%) organizations; collaboration is a top-three priority in 59 percent. Both analytics and collaboration have a process orientation that uses technology as an enabler of the process. The sooner organizations implement a process framework, the sooner they can achieve success in their analytic efforts. To implement a successful framework such as the one described above, organizations must realize that innovation is not the top priority; rather they need the ability to use innovation to support an adaptable analytic process. The benefits will be wide-ranging, including better understanding of objectives, more targeted analysis, analytical depth and analytical initiatives that have a real impact on decision-making.
As the year 2014 closed, I can’t help but to reflect on all that the City of Philadelphia has accomplished in the past year. With the implementation of a new Salesforce customer relationship management system (CRM), new partnerships, and program expansion, it has been a long year. It has also been a year that has brought us at the City’s 311 Contact Center closer to fully realizing our big goals. We are on the cusp of a movement. We are aggressively steering away from what traditional government has been, revamping our customer service strategy, and leading the nation with an innovative approach. By incorporating private sector methods, and platforms, to better our customer experience, we have been working to revolutionize the way government operates.
Here are a few things that are changing city government, and in a very big way.
1. The Customer. Understanding that the citizen is our customer, and using those terms as synonyms, has reoriented our general framework. Our customers are unique because they are citizens! The citizens’ customer experience expands beyond providing city services. Every improvement we make for our customer affects their quality of life.
2. Executive sponsorship from the City’s Mayor and Administration. Having people who share your desire to create a city environment of customer excellence, has been imperative to the process.
3. Citywide Senior Leadership follows suit in understanding and supporting our movement towards a progressive and transparent city government. Support from senior leadership influences and facilitates change in every step of the journey. These folks are more than okaying improvements, they are standing by them, and pushing them to the next level.
4. The City’s Customer Experience strategic goal: “Government Efficiency and Effectiveness.” A focus on efficiency and effectiveness is imperative for city government, and the Mayor’s goal is a constant reminder of what type of experience we should be crafting for our customers. Keeping this in mind, sets a mindset of progress.
5. The Innovation Lab meeting space. The Innovation Lab encourages creativity and gives us a designated space for our citizens to generate new ideas. The Lab is another extension of how the city is bringing the customer further into the conversation, and also helping them lead the conversation.
6. The Neighborhood Liaison Community Engagement Program. A community engagement program is just one example of programming that we have implemented to give our customers self sustainable tools. In the last year the program has doubled in size from 600 to 1,200 contributors. This increase demonstrates an increase in trust towards city government. Citizens are seeing results and relying on us more and more.
7. Having a Staff that Cares. Public servants should always there for the citizens, and realize that they are a direct reflection of the city they work for and love. Understanding our common objective, fosters a motivated and caring internal environment.
8. Customer Service Officers. Customer service is no longer limited to City Hall. With people like Customer Service Officers, we are out in the internal city agencies and departments and impacting people where it counts.
9. Partnering In and outside of the City. Especially with the implementation of the new customer relationship management system (CRM), private partners have played a significant role in helping us move towards our goals this year.
10. Taking Notes from business and tech communities. Paying attention to what private sector companies are doing, and translating them into our own practices, sets us a head of the curve.
The list could easily go on, and will as 2015 unfolds. I am excited about the future and so are the citizens.
Tell me what’s changing your industry and what you look forward to in the New Year.
Private and public sectors are terms that are thrown around loosely no matter what end of the spectrum you or your business falls under. In government, it’s not unusual to hear people say, “Well if we were in the private sector…” In many instances the two seem like they are different worlds, but ultimately they are both used to describe parts of the economy, and what services each sector provides. Where the private sector part of the economy is concerned with private enterprises, the public sector is concerned with government services.
In customer service, it is imperative to know the difference between private and public sectors, because it helps define your customers’ needs. Though the terms are important, it’s not uncommon to see people use them incorrectly. But both the private sector and the public sector have distinct characteristic that distinguish them from each other.
The private sector is privately owned
The primary differences between the private and public sectors are who they employ and who they work for. The private sector is usually made up of privately owned organizations, like corporations. However, the private sector is not limited to big corporations and can include local business, credit unions, non-profit partnerships, and charities.
The public sector serves the public
The public sector mostly operates through organizations owned by the government, and as a result, public sector workers are paid by the government. These organizations can include: holding political office, the U.S Postal Service, and federal, state, or municipal governments. The public sector provides services that directly influence their governing province and/or country.
Private provides tangible products, while the public sector often outputs “anti-products.”
Ron Ross of The American Spectator put it nicely when he said, “The private sector’s products all around us — food, shelter, clothing, automobiles, home appliances, entertainment, for example. The public sector’s products include defense, the justice system, roads and highways, public schools, income redistribution (welfare), laws, and regulations…” It’s easy to recognize the private sector because of its products, yet it’s important not to overlook the significant services that the public sector provides.
We see that the private sector and public sector have their clear distinctions, yet they often find themselves in communication with each other. Customer service methods are a great way to share a dialoged between the two. Part of my job as the Chief Customer Service Officer is understanding that there are different approaches when it comes to customer service in both sectors. A customer is a customer regardless of the product, yet in the public sector, when your customer is the public, it is a little bit different. As a customer of Wal-Mart, if you are dissatisfied with the service you have experienced, you can go shop at Target. Most of the time, with public services, you can’t shop around. In the public sector we have long-term customers and our challenge is to provide them with the best customer service that we can.
Providing citizens with great customer service often means borrowing strategies from the private sector. Using social media as customer service tool, for example, is something that many successful businesses have done. We have implemented a similar strategy at the City of Philadelphia, but one that directly connects citizens with city services. Understanding what is being referenced, and being familiar with the distinctions, between private and public sectors, ultimately helps the public sector better meet citizens’ needs.
To learn about more differences between the private and public sector, check out Jan Mares’ “25 Differences Between Private Sector and Government Managers
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