How SLED Agencies Can Improve Public Interaction
For the public, contacting state, local, or education (SLED) agencies has usually been a matter of finding the right number in a directory or navigating a lengthy list of IVR menu options only to reach a voice mailbox. As these agencies face the labor shortages and impacts of the Great Resignation, reaching a live person and getting answers can be even more frustrating.
The answer is in your contact center. Improving your contact center technology can help you improve the public experience with your agency – while saving both time and money. In fact, according to research by Deloitte, 79% of government officials say automation is already making a significant positive impact on their organizations, and more than 80% of early adopter public sector organizations are currently using or planning to use AI.
Let’s look at things from a citizen’s perspective.
You get your city water bill and nearly fall off your chair — it’s astronomical! Obviously, the city made a billing error. On your lunch break, you look up the phone number for the Public Works department and make a call, only to find out that you need to call another number to reach the billing department. When you do, the line’s busy and you don’t have time wait. Your afternoon is booked with meetings and the Billing office closes at 4 p.m. You try again tomorrow. And you still can’t get through.
Meanwhile, the Billing office has become aware that there was a mass error in the month’s invoices and now their lines are flooded with calls. The department’s small staff can’t answer the phone fast enough and they’re struggling to manage the call volume while figuring out how to correct the error and resend invoices. They’re eventually able to have IT put a notice up on the Public Works website to inform the public of error, but frustrated callers continue to keep the phones ringing off the hook. Everyone’s frazzled.
Virtual Agents to the Rescue
The system would have answered every call immediately with zero busy signals and no wait times. The Five9 IVA would have used conversational AI to ask callers to describe the issue. Once the Five9 IVA identified the nature of the problem, it would have been able to verify caller identity and account info and offer to route the caller to a staff member.
Once staff members realized the billing error, they would have been able to quickly update the Five9 IVA script. They wouldn’t have to wait on IT to adapt the script to inform callers that they were aware of the error, provide instructions on next steps, and assure callers that they were addressing the situation. Fewer calls would require a live response from a staff member.
Five9 solutions would have helped them quickly satisfy the public’s need for information and guidance while giving staff the time to focus on fixing the error and resending invoices.
Why SLED Agencies Need Contact Center Technology
People often associate contact center technology with retailers and industries where consumers frequently need to engage with a customer service representative, such as for order information or tech support.
The idea of utilizing contact center technology within SLED agencies is less familiar. Most SLED agencies must focus on prioritizing cost savings and working within the parameters of fiduciary responsibility to taxpayers. Traditionally, that means they’ve often focused more on where tax dollars go than they have on public experience.
In the non-SLED world, customer experience is a number one differentiator – an area the public sector has not yet had to compete. Most SLED agencies are the only game in town. They don’t have to compete for customers and haven’t felt the pressure to improve public experience in the same way the private sector has.
This is changing. The public that SLED agencies serve is increasingly younger generations that operate in a world where customer experience determines their brand loyalty. While they may not have a choice among agencies, they do have the power of their voices and votes. SLED agencies can no longer afford to deprioritize improving the public experience. Fortunately, for many, there’s a strong will and intent to do so.
Contact center solutions can help agencies deliver a modern, efficient experience while also helping them reduce operating costs and budget spend. Not only can agencies improve the traditional telephone response, but they can add channels give people more choices of how to engage with them, such as SMS, email, and chat.
Agencies can also solicit public feedback on how their constituents interact with Five9 technology to gauge satisfaction and learn what people like and dislike — helping to promote a more open, transparent government experience.
Reimagine the public experience in your own SLED organization:
Explore how public sector organizations are implementing self-service options for next-generation citizen experiences.
Read our white paper, “How State and Local Governments Can Deliver Exceptional Service in an Emergency and Every Day.”