Government CRM Is a Work in Progress

A large number of government executives believe their agencies are not at the point of delivering top-notch service, although they identify doing so as a top priority, according to a global study released today by Accenture. Although 92 percent of government executives said it was "important or very important" to provide superior service, more than 90 percent of the executives who participated in the study said their agencies do not yet deliver superior service. Additionally, only 28 percent of respondents said their agencies are effective today at delivering services through the channels their customers prefer. The study, "CRM in Government: Bridging the Gaps," is based on interviews with more than 140 government-agency executives in 15 countries in North America, Europe, and Asia. Among the study's other findings: Only 40 percent of respondents said their agencies resolve customer questions efficiently; just 34 percent of respondents said their agencies route calls and make assignments efficiently; 26 percent of respondents said their agencies track customer requests effectively; and only 22 percent of respondents said their agencies follow up with citizens and businesses to monitor their satisfaction. "Governments must take their cue from the private sector and better understand the wants and needs of their customers--the citizens and businesses they serve--and modify their processes to accommodate them," Steve Rohleder, group chief executive of Accenture's government operating group, said in a written statement. "Fortunately, a growing number of governments are taking a step in the right direction by involving their customers in the creation of new services." The study's findings support this observation. For instance, more than half (54 percent) of the respondents said their agencies involve customers in the development of customer services. However, only one third (34 percent) of respondents said they believe their agencies are effective at delivering tailored customer services. Andrew Simmonds, the partner responsible for customer relationship management services in Accenture's government operating group, says that for government agencies to get up to speed, the first thing they need to do is "rationalize" their customer contact channels. "Agencies need to better consolidate their contact points like the 311 program in NYC, and many government offices still have to offer better services over the Web and other channels," Simmonds says. He adds that the sector is five years behind other industries in allowing customers to interact via multiple channels. Only a third of the executives surveyed said their agencies use multichannel contact centers that integrate telephone, mail, email, Internet, and fax capabilities. "The second most important step is analytics," Simmonds says. "Once you've got customers up online you need to capture the context of the touch points and gain insights about the customer, just as with any other sector." Simmonds warns that even though agencies may be behind technologically, they must stay focused on business process change and not rely solely on technology to advance their services. "Agencies must absolutely stay focused on process and people issues," he says. "There is a lot of technology involved, but most important is the change in attitude away from the old mode of thought that government is a monopoly and citizens have no other choice but to interact through the channels government affords them."
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