When it comes to delivering efficient government services, contact center experts are encouraging organizations to use automation and data-driven analytics in order to put the needs of their customers first.

That was the top-line news from the Nov. 18 virtual event – Contact Center Success: Improving the Government Customer Experience – hosted by MeriTalk and ServiceNow where Federal and industry leaders discussed the importance of teams creating an omnichannel digital experience using automation and analytics to improve customer service.

This important discussion comes as the Biden-Harris administration’s just-released “vision” statement for the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) places improving customer experience as a top priority. The PMA vision aims at “delivering excellent, equitable, and secure Federal services and customer experience.”

“Automation is absolutely important for many different reasons, not just driving efficiency, but also the customer experience,” John Ball, ServiceNow’s general manager of customer workflows, said during the event.

“You want to [use automation] for as much as you can, so that those thorny issues, those moments that matter for the citizen that can’t be automated, get the extra white-glove treatment from a human,” Ball said. “That’s my overall design philosophy – automate the simple stuff so you can then spend time on the complex stuff.”

Ball also noted that automation can be used to facilitate a proactive approach to government services. For example, a bot can start the intake process for requests by automating some of the simple data collection, “so that when a human agent starts interacting with the customer or the citizen, it’s much more efficient,” he said.

Russell O’Neill, director of delivery and channel operations at the General Services Administration’s USAGov organization, agreed automation is an important tool to improve customer experience. O’Neill also stressed that providing choice to the customer through an omnichannel approach is “critical,” as is having data-driven analytics to better understand the customer’s needs.

“The analytics that you generate in all of your channels are so important to help you drive that conversation around what customers are looking for and how you’re helping them and how you’re not helping them,” O’Neill said.

“Don’t think of it as just a contact center,” he continued. “Don’t think of it as just a website. Think of it as the overall experience for all the channels that you’re offering as an organization because what you’re probably going to find is that the questions are all the same… it’s just about preference, about how customers are choosing to interact with you. Really looking at that data and being data-driven is so incredibly important.”

R. Scott Ward, division chief of organizational change management at the Veteran Experience Office, Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), noted that customer experience is baked into what they do at VA, which is placing the voice of the veteran first.

“We want to make sure that part of the data we’re looking at is the experience, that we’re measuring the experience that veterans and their family members and caregivers have when dealing with the VA,” Ward said. “Always listen to the voice of your customers. For us, the voice of the veteran is one of the most important marks we’re going to have and it’s helping us every day.”

Ball echoed that same sentiment and said that being data-driven and listening to the voice of the customer should drive an organization’s roadmap and priorities. “We all know it’s hard to do in practice, but it’s conceptually simple,” Ball said.

For the full conversation, view the on-demand program here.

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Grace Dille
Grace Dille
Grace Dille is MeriTalk's Assistant Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.