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Delivering great government customer service in times of need

Rosetta Lue,
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When I say, “government customer service,” what do you think of first? Standing in line at your local registry of motor vehicles? Waiting on hold to speak to someone about your unemployment payment? Or maybe it’s the ease with which you were able to file your taxes online this year?

Every day, millions of transactions are processed through local, regional, and national government agencies and offices, delivering varying levels of customer service and experience. Some agencies, like the Swedish Unemployment Office (SO) and the U.S. Census Bureau make it easy to connect through mobile technologies and modern applications. Others are actively working to improve their constituent-facing processes and operations or have been forced to alter or adapt operations to support distributed workforces and limited office hours due to the pandemic. Whether motivated by mandate, cost-efficiencies, or a desire to incorporate a more private sector approach to government operations, leaders within government agencies are prioritizing customer service that is accessible and provides a high-quality constituent experience.

Bringing private sector experiences to public agencies

The move toward better government customer experiences is driven by higher constituent expectations. Private companies like Amazon have made easy, intuitive, and transparent interactions the standard for customer service and experience. They are customer-centric, designed around the customer’s journey – not around internal policies or legacy procedures. Interactions are also data-driven and may even be predictive. Information is accessible on demand via mobile devices and self-service digital channels.

Government agencies realize this is the new standard and are taking steps to be more customer-centric. In the U.S., Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goals are helping to drive improvements to deliver a “modern, streamlined, and responsive customer experience across government, comparable to leading private-sector organizations.” The New South Wales government in Australia has outlined Customer Commitments that specifically call out empathy, ease of engagement, and clear communication as components of great government customer experiences. And in another example, the United Kingdom’s Digital Service Standard provides guidelines to help agencies make constituent services more easy, accessible, understanding, and capable of supporting the customer’s full journey, from inquiry to resolution.

Transforming the citizen experience with a customer-centric approach

Whether your agency is in the process of modernizing or hasn’t yet begun its digital transformation, you’ll be able to provide customer-centric service and deliver exceptional constituent experiences with an agile platform that allows for continuing improvements to service accessibility, consistency, accuracy, and timeliness.

To improve constituent services, take the following approach, starting with your most urgent needs now then bridging the gaps between legacy systems and current apps to service constituents from end to end:

  • Define the customer journeys important to your mission: Understand what the process is from end-to-end to intake and resolve each type of inquiry – what needs to happen from a back-office perspective and what the customer’s experience should be on the front end.

  • Build from the center out: Once you’ve defined your customer journeys and microjourneys, you can apply those rules and processes to your channels at the top of your enterprise architecture and to the data and services at the bottom of your architecture to build accuracy and consistency into all your policies and procedures.

  • Provide always-on availability through mobile and self-service: Be mobile-first, but not mobile-only. Call center, email, and traditional mail are still important, and when those channels are outside of service hours, accessible self-service channels provide a way for customers to connect with you.

  • Leverage the cloud to connect data from all of your channels: Take advantage of RESTful APIs to securely connect with and gather customer data from all of your applications and technologies.

  • Use case management and intelligent guidance for transparency and consistency: A case represents the work that needs to be performed to achieve an outcome and may include planned and unplanned tasks and processes. Case management organizes all of the actions that need to take place to complete a customer journey, expediting outcomes. It also provides managers, agents, and customers with visibility into that journey every step of the way, supporting transparency and accountability. When case management is combined with a decisioning tool, government agencies can anticipate needs and proactively engage with constituents to keep them informed.

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Challenge: Enterprise Modernization Challenge: Customer Service Industry: Government Product Area: Customer Service Topic: Customer Service

About the Author

Rosetta Lue, Pega’s director and industry principal for state and local government, has an extensive track record innovating and improving the customer experience at agencies throughout the public sector.

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