This article was originally published on LinkedIn by MaryAnn Monroe, Director of Customer Experience, HighPoint Global.
Digital service integration is a top goal for many government agencies. Citizen expectations of digital services are based on the smooth interaction they have with commercial entities like their bank, supermarket, and even their shoe “store.” Agencies need to meet this expectation of connected service, no matter the channel (in-person, online, on the phone), but getting started can feel like an insurmountable challenge.
A contact center customer access strategy requires bringing people together and breaking down silos of information and workflows. Whether you want to refine your current customer access strategy or add new digital channels to your contact center there are several important steps you can take to break down the silos in your organization. It takes coordination, communication, collaboration, and cultivation to integrate new channels of service delivery into existing platforms.
Coordination: Ensure leaders have unified visions and goals for success
Leaders set the vision and steer the ship in an agency. Making decisions on new channels of service delivery requires a shared vision from the top and an understanding of the goals of digital channel integration. Once goals are defined, you need to clearly communicate your vision for success so that everyone across the organization is working for the same outcomes and has a unified focus.
Goals will vary based on the agency. Do you want to decrease costs? Improve efficiency? Meet citizen needs using emerging channels? From the outset, you need to have clearly defined and measurable goals for adding new channels. Otherwise, how will you know if you have succeeded in your task?
Communication: Share data among departments
In the most ideal situations, contact center, web, and marketing teams coordinate with and learn from each other. After all, these teams are all critical in supporting the organization’s vision and goals. In reality, these teams often operate alone, with little communication or integration. Whether teams have been siloed by design or simply by agency history, breaking down the walls among teams is a key part of moving forward in delivering great citizen experience.
Sharing data among teams is one of the most important steps in breaking down silos. Teams can share data such as:
- What are top tasks or issues that citizens come to find on your website?
- What content is most frequently accessed by the public on existing channels?
- Are there differences in the types of inquiries that come in on your existing channels?
- Which questions and problems are top of mind when citizens call in to contact centers?
- Are citizens asking the same questions repeatedly, regardless of channel?
As team members identify and share this information among departments, they can begin to work on improvements to citizen services. There may be opportunities for improving online experiences, such as automating content on websites and improving self-service capabilities to address the most common questions.
Scheduling monthly data meetings among cross-functional teams is another important part of sharing data among departments. Make sure to include leadership in these meetings. Simply talking about what you know and what your data is telling you drives conversations and uncovers a wealth of information that you may assume people know, but this is the place where teams often have “ah-ha” moments once they start talking and sharing.
Collaboration: Settle in to cross-functional teams
Once members from contact centers, digital, and marketing teams come together and share data, they can tackle complex questions and service issues from their respective, functional points of view. For example, teams may first want to unpack why citizen contacts happen—a fairly basic question. Just knowing the nature of queries coming in can help in knowing which types of contacts you want to encourage and which ones you want to prevent.
Teams can then make data-driven decisions to determine if there are ways to better serve citizens online. Consider online forms that citizens need to complete. Are they overly complicated – are citizens calling in for assistance in completing and submitting them? Are there other processes that can be moved online? Is the information in the frequently asked questions regularly reviewed, updated, and changed based on citizen questions?
If individual team members have citizen journey maps, they should share them. Journey maps bring to life citizens’ end-to-end experience and highlight where there are opportunities to improve existing service delivery or completely change or add a new service to an online experience. Comparing journey maps across functional teams can also highlight different systems and technologies that are used across journeys and where there are opportunities to offer online services that don’t exist today. If key customer journeys are not known and mapped, start here.
Cultivation: Train (and hire) for new skills and behaviors
Once cross-functional teams are in place, leaders and team members may quickly identify areas where they need additional training to be successful to best serve citizens. What behaviors and skills do you need to change to accomplish your goals?
Here is an opportunity for different team members to share their expertise and shine. Marketing team members may have deep knowledge of strategies on existing social platforms. Digital team members may be able to lend insight into content, so contact center agents have answers ready when citizens call in with “how-to” questions, and vice versa. Contact center agents can fill in the gaps of knowledge based directly on their interactions with citizens and inform digital teams on content areas that need improvement on the website.
To provide the best citizen service possible, contact center agents now have to possess a wide range of skills. They need to solve complex problems and understand that a single contact is part of a wider citizen journey that may not start or end with them. Adding digital strategies is important to meeting citizens where they want to receive services; adding agents who are trained to handle multiple types of citizen queries on different channels is essential.
As you think about hiring or training existing staff, consider how new and different skills are needed to handle new channels. Look across functional departments within your organization or agency—perhaps the requisite skills you need exist within your organization.
Breaking down silos among teams—especially silos that have been in place for a long time–takes time and perseverance. Agencies that work to break down these silos and create cross-functional teams that share data will reap the benefits of more informed CX strategies and plans. Teams will already have common goals and a unified vision and will be ready to tackle the next challenge, whether it involves integrating a new digital channel for communication or something else entirely.