• April 4, 2023
  • By Erik J. Martin, freelance writer and public relations expert

CRM in Government: Vertical Markets Spotlight

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When it comes to servicing their constituents, local, state, and federal government bodies have long been challenged by internal inefficiencies, outdated processes and technologies, bureaucracy, and staffing and budgeting shortages. Then in 2020, the U.S. federal government mandated a CRM overhaul for all 17 executive agencies and set higher standards for citizen experiences. Areas of focus include making websites more accessible and uniform; making information easier to find; digitally transforming service delivery; better designing constituent journeys and interactions; and retrofitting contact centers with the latest technologies and processes.

A big reason for the change was COVID-19, with government health agencies scrambling to provide information to terrified citizens desperate for information.

The past two years have also seen many CRM solutions granted Federal Risk and Authorization Management Program (FedRAMP) certification, authorizing them for use by government agencies based on a review of their cloud data security protocols and other factors. And CRM spending in the federal government increased dramatically, with some agencies allocating billions for their CRM operations.

In fact, at press time, the Biden Administration had included in its fiscal year 2024 federal budget proposal $500 million to build or expand CRM-related functions at most federal government agencies. The budget request covers building new customer service offices or expanding existing ones at the departments of Agriculture, Homeland Security, Interior, Labor, Treasury, and Veterans Affairs; the Small Business Administration; the Social Security Administration; the Federal Emergency Management Agency; and the Census Bureau. Up to 120 full-time employees will be hired to staff those offices.

The request also covers new voice-of-the-customer programs to collect and report on feedback from the public to identify pain points and improve service delivery.

The White House is also calling on the General Services Administration to work with other federal agencies on service improvement projects, such as improving website content, ensuring that information is clear, and that services such as text messaging and virtual chat agents are more widely available.

Local and state government agencies haven’t been as aggressive with their CRM projects, but they, too, could benefit from investments in CRM technology, according to Flynn Zaiger, CEO of Online Optimism, a marketing organization. “At the local level, CRM systems offer efficient handling of citizen complaints and feedback by easily incorporating messages into one platform rather than disparate systems,” he says.


Government agencies operate under a different business model than private-sector entities. Competition is not a factor. After all, if people don’t like the process for obtaining a driver’s license from the Department of Motor Vehicles, it’s not like they can go somewhere else to get one.

Nonetheless, CRM systems can help government entities like the DMV sell goods or services, such as permits or licenses, to the public. CRM can manage sales data, track customer behavior and preferences, and simplify processes, leading to better experiences for everyone involved.

But the benefits don’t end there. “Leveraging CRM to identify hard-to-reach, low-tech-literacy, multilingual, or otherwise disengaged communities is critical to program success,” says Adnan Mahmud, founder and CEO of FORWARD, provider of an integrated program administration platform. “A well-thought-through CRM implementation can also reduce fraud and ensure that benefits get to those with the most need.”

Government agencies have another key difference, Mahmud argues: “Constituents expect their governments to execute programming quickly, accurately, and in a way that uses taxpayer dollars efficiently. Governments need CRM technology that collects good data and tracks the progress of different programs so leaders can make decisions that drive equity.”

As it is in corporate America, data is key to government operations, and the need for agencies to keep it secure, up to date, and accurate is even greater. That further strengthens the case for government CRM.

As customer data continues to grow, government entities must develop more efficient ways of collecting and analyzing it. By implementing CRM, government bodies can centralize customer information and gain a comprehensive view of constituent needs, preferences, and interactions.

But the perks don’t stop there. “By consolidating customer data into a single platform, government agencies can have a 360-degree view of customer interactions and provide personalized service to each customer. Also, with CRM, government agencies can analyze customer data to identify trends and areas for improvement in customer service,” Zaiger adds.

Increasingly, government agencies are turning to predictive analytics to help in that area. “Predictive analytics is becoming more prevalent in CRM technology, enabling agencies to anticipate and respond to customer needs more effectively. By analyzing customer data, they can identify patterns and trends and proactively address potential issues before they arise,” says Nick Stohlman, cofounder and chief customer officer at SOMA Global, a provider of cloud-native public safety solutions.

Government agencies are also relying more heavily these days on mobile and cloud-based CRM, seeing them as essential for effective operations on the go and in real time.

Also key now is the integration of CRM software with Internet of Things (IoT) devices, allowing government entities to monitor and respond to important events using a variety of sensors and devices, such as cameras and radar equipment.

Mark Ungerman, a marketing director at NICE, advocates for government agencies to implement knowledge management platforms, interactive voice response tools, and smart chatbots.

Even within the government sector, though, different types of agencies have different needs.

Consider, for example, how a well-designed CRM system can help police departments contact the community and provide targeted information about their services, events, and initiatives.

“CRM technology can help public safety agencies by providing real-time resource allocation and utilization data. This can help agencies optimize their operations and respond more effectively to emergencies,” Stohlman says.

“CRM can also help police track and analyze the effectiveness of their outreach efforts in real time,” Stohlman continues. “In addition, it can help law enforcement communicate more effectively with the community by providing a centralized platform for managing inquiries, complaints, and feedback.”

Other government entities rely on grants to fund their operations or special initiatives. CRM can help manage data related to grant opportunities and track the status of grant applications, secure funding, and meet critical deadlines by providing information on the grant-writing process, Stohlman says.

And still other government departments rely on fundraising or donations. CRM can help manage these efforts and donors and provide detailed reports on campaign success. It can also oversee sponsorships by local businesses or other groups.


Given the amount of government money being thrown at CRM solutions, the number of successful deployments are plentiful. Take the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (DHHS), which recently upgraded its CRM platform to manage a larger volume of inquiries. The new system “allows it to better track customer service calls, prioritize inquiries, and ensure that requests are responded to promptly. It also helps provide more accurate data on customer satisfaction and feedback,” says Mark Wenger, founder and CEO of MyGov.me.

Then there is the California Governor’s Office of Emergency Services, which recently onboarded a new CRM system called the State Operations Center (SOC) to help respond to emergencies and communicate with other agencies. The SOC system uses Salesforce CRM to provide real-time data and collaboration tools.

And the Nevada Department of Health and Human Services also turned to Salesforce’s platform to help deal with the opioid crisis. “This innovative approach helped distribute important treatments and literally save lives,” Zaiger points out.

Michigan’s DHHS had no dedicated contact center for its 5,000 caseworkers, who collectively handle around 1 million calls annually. The department worked with NICE to develop a digital, cloud-based contact center. “To increase capacity, changes were made in call routing and scripting for incoming calls with the visual studio interface to quickly and efficiently adjust routing flow,” Ungerman recalls. “This was critical when the state issued a notice that food benefits would be paid early, leading to a spike in call volume. Michigan DHHS was able to scale up operations to handle the increase in calls and was even able to proactively reach out to citizens to get them information before they reached out.”

But while government use of CRM technology is growing, there are still many government bodies that need to begin investing in it. For them, Wenger recommends these steps: (1) identify goals and objectives; (2) assign a project manager to oversee the project to make sure it stays on track and within budget; (3) develop an implementation plan that outlines timelines, tasks, the resources needed to complete each task, and the roles and responsibilities of each person involved; (4) create the necessary process for data entry, storage, management, and security; (5) train staff on how to use the system; (6) implement appropriate reporting and analytics to measure system effectiveness and identify opportunities for improvement; and (7) monitor and review the system regularly to ensure that it continues to meet needs.

Mahmud also advises issuing well-crafted requests for proposals before selecting any system. “Be explicit about the target scenarios, timeline, and budget,” he says. “Provide a clear cost template for vendors to follow so that, in the review phase, you are not comparing apples to oranges. And ask for a demo and require vendors to demonstrate the high-priority scenarios.”

It’s also critical to know what constituents want and expect. “Align their needs to your agency’s mission and then design the right journey interactions. Use surveys, analyze interactions for sentiment, and even dig deeper using AI to retrospectively understand what happened to determine the best and worst outcomes,” Ungerman says.

Additionally, “be aware of potential resistance from some employees. Providing information about the training and expected efficiencies of using the new system can sway anyone fearful of the CRM,” Zaiger suggests.

Finally, prepare for an extensive data migration process. Bringing all of your old information from proprietary systems to a CRM is going to require a lot of manual labor, Zaiger urges. 

Erik J. Martin is a Chicago area-based freelance writer and public relations expert whose articles have been featured in AARP The MagazineReader’s DigestThe Costco Connection, and other publications. He often writes on topics related to real estate, business, technology, healthcare, insurance, and entertainment. He also publishes several blogs, including martinspiration.com and cineversegroup.com.

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