The necessity of reliable government customer service

From transportation to children and family services, government bodies are responsible for providing critical service and assistance on a daily basis. Learn how one government agency implemented a new IVR system that offered faster, more personalized interactions. And most importantly, streamlining the IVR allowed staff to focus on what was most important – providing help to children and families.
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Learn how to improve the customer experience in government services.

Government plays a critical role in citizens’ lives. From transportation to healthcare to public safety, everyday people rely on government agencies for a host of critical issues. Therefore, offering exceptional and timely service isn’t an option. It’s a must. When people are seeking answers to their questions or are looking to solve a problem, agencies can’t afford to provide service that is sub-par. Local, state, and federal governments must consistently find fast, easy and secure ways to provide information and resources across all channels.

But – that’s a tall order. Government services are often high stakes and high stress. So how do you provide an effective experience that the public can count on? In 2015, a child and family services agency figured out how. By launching an intuitive speech-enabled Interactive Voice Response system (IVR), they were able to deliver faster, more personalized assistance that met the rising expectations of citizens.

 

The challenge

Like so many government agencies, this child and family services agency was tasked with handling hundreds of calls each day, amounting to nearly three million a year. From inquiring about available services to checking the status of applications and payments, the citizens calling into the IVR were in urgent need. Unfortunately, the agency’s legacy IVR system created long wait times and impersonal and confusing IVR menus. Additionally, there were limited self-service capabilities, forcing callers to either wade through a maze of submenus or wait for an agent. To make matters worse, important information provided by callers in the IVR wasn’t captured and relayed to the agent, thereby making callers repeat themselves, which quickly drove up call handle times.

 

A better way

In order to provide high quality service and better meet the needs of families and children, the government agency launched a speech-enabled IVR, allowing callers to use their voice to interact with the system and efficiently navigate to the information they were looking for. The IVR offered the following capabilities to enhance the caller experience:

  • Natural interaction: The high-quality text-to-speech capability and natural-sounding speech recording encouraged spoken interaction with callers, and recognized both English and Spanish.
  • Easy authentication: The new IVR offered easy authentication, creating a simpler experience for the caller. The IVR prompted the caller to authenticate themselves by speaking their case number or social security number. The caller ID is also verified against the phone number on record for an additional layer of security, which also enables a more personalized interaction with the system.
  • Anticipating caller needs: After being authenticated, a unique, predictive menu capability offered personalized menu options and messages based on previous caller records and interactions. The ability to anticipate needs and offer a personalized experience allows the IVR to proactively provide relevant information to the caller, before the caller even has to ask. It additionally helps to contains calls that, in the past, would have required agent intervention.
  • Inform agents: If the caller opts to interact with an agent at any point, the information they provide to the IVR is then transferred to the agent, eliminating the need for the client to repeat themselves and allowing the agent to efficiently and seamlessly provide support.

Government bodies are responsible for providing critical service and assistance to people, every single day. The demands are high, but with the right tools in place, consistently reliable and impactful service can be ensured. Implementing a new IVR system can reduce costs, allowing agents to be utilized on more complex and rewarding customer interactions, thus empowering government agencies to serve citizens more effectively . This child and family services agency improved the user experience by offering more personalized interactions and increasing the number of self-service options. Additionally, they increased the containment rate and reduced the number of repeat calls. But most importantly, by streamlining the IVR and enhancing its efficiency, it allowed staff to focus on what was most important – providing help to children and families.

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  • If there was ever a market vertical that needed to upgrade its IVR implementations, it would be government. Tern Systems’ 2016 IVR Telephone Self-Service market report surveyed 171 government IVR and found only 10% used speech recognition and none were capable of natural language understanding. At least now we can put one in the NLU column.

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