Insight by Zendesk

How to rev up your agency’s CX with data


Metrics to Benchmark Customer Experience

I think if the public sector can look at the industry metrics the private sector is used to using, [agencies are] going to find a lot of the data federal agencies should be striving for.


Omnichannel in a CX Context

The best way to really consider moving people away from phones is to go right back to that idea of customer effort scores, and make these other channels easier.

When it comes to customer experience (CX), the government continues to lag behind the best of the private sector. To be sure, the government has improved over the years. But what constitutes best-in-CX continuously advances. What was acceptable in the early days of e-government seems hopelessly dated in the age of integrated digital services and artificial intelligence-powered call centers.

Thus, the latest executive order on customer experience, issued by an administration that wants to pull agencies uniformly into the 21st century where CX is concerned.

Fundamentally, organizations good at CX have a strong grasp of the metrics to understand how they are doing with customers, or in the case of government entities, constituents.

“I think if the public sector can look at the industry metrics the private sector is used to using, [agencies are] going to find a lot of the data federal agencies should be striving for,” said Matt Hale, public sector solutions consultant at Zendesk.

Hale named two metrics in particular. One is a little more obvious, namely customer satisfaction, or CSAT, as expressed in after-the-fact surveys. Hales said CSAT provides “a good measure of short-term transactional approval of how a particular process went.”

Hale said the organization can get further insight from a somewhat lesser known metric called the customer effort score.

“The idea behind this one,” Hale said, “is we’re trying to track how difficult or how easy it was for somebody to complete a task to do business with you, to get a form filled out, or to resolve a particular issue.” Key to long-term customer acceptance is how well the organization resolves the inevitable problems or exceptional cases that pop up.

A third metric that can drive improvement in the customer effort score is known as first contact resolution. That is, whether the constituent resolve an issue in a single call or online session.

Hale said single- or first contact may not be a viable goal in every instance for federal agencies because of security precautions and the need for people to provide additional information. That dynamic, he said, points to the need for well-designed data systems that support call center staff and online, automated transaction.

Hale said the history and details of a particular encounter must be organized and retained so, for example, in a second call the information gathered during the first call is retained and available to the operator.

An integrated approach

It’s also wise to integrate data from the multiple channels through which constituents contact the agency, Hale said. Survey data alone is often unreliable because people opt in, usually when they’ve had a bad experience, and therefore the sample may not be projectable.

“But if you can you take your surveying,” Hale said, “and pair that with understanding time tracking, understanding resolution, this data that’s just going to be constantly fed into your systems, your ticketing platforms, that’s when you can start to really build that bigger picture of identifying what your trends are, what your potential bottlenecks are, what your strengths are.”

Such data gathering and reporting is required for agencies undertaking what the CX industry calls the omni-channel approach. Omni-channel implies not simply having multiple interactive channels – typically email, chat, phone and digital online application – but rather offering them in an integrated way on top of an underlying data environment.

“Omni channel is really about offering any possible modern method of a constituent reaching out, and then being able to centralize that on the backend,” Hale said. “So that there’s no discrepancy between somebody calling in versus emailing it.”

He added, “The main thing you need to do to create an omni-channel environment is to work to centralize things behind the scenes.” Without that backend integration, customer experience can worsen as the number of channels rises, Hale said.

Another element of an omni-channel environment is automation powered by artificial intelligence and voice recognition. Especially in a call center situation, this capability can eliminate frustrating and repetition of identity, topic, and problem. Instead, Hale recited, a call can go like this:

“’Hey, Tom, it’s nice to talk to you. I assume you’re calling about this issue that I see in my system from two days ago. Let me tell you the status of that.’ That’s how you’re able to leverage that technology, and that voice recognition, to be able to drive a superior customer experience.”

Such a powerful omni-channel approach can lessen dependence on the call center, when people can resolve requests, transactions, or problems online. At the same time, Hale said, the call center people become more consultative and effective. Plus, the number of required contacts drops, and therefore the time to resolution.

Listen to the full show:

Copyright © 2023 Federal News Network. All rights reserved. This website is not intended for users located within the European Economic Area.

Featured speakers

  • Matt Hale

    Solutions Consultant, Public Sector, Zendesk

  • Tom Temin

    Host, The Federal Drive, Federal News Network