This article was written by Pankaj Kohli.
Governments around the world have been forced to transform and adapt to the way they communicate and interact with citizens over the past year. The COVID-19 pandemic created an unprecedented crisis that has affected almost every industry, underscoring the need for agility and adaptability.
Let’s consider some of the essential, new government support services that have been forced on political leaders within the past twelve months:
- Citizen helplines to provide medical advice and up-to-date health guidelines
- Hotlines for individuals and businesses requesting grants or emergency financial support, such as furlough payments for unemployed workers
- Proactive track and trace services for quarantine management, Exposure notifications, and monitoring virus spread
- Vaccine management services that provide logistics support, as well as patient notifications, scheduling, and post-vaccine wellness checks
- Helplines for updates on travel restrictions, lockdowns, curfews, school closures, etc.
Establishing and implementing new citizen services should be managed very similarly to customer support delivery since citizen expectations are often defined through their experiences with other industries or brands. For example, people often wonder why companies like Amazon can provide immediate customer support for product-related questions, but getting advice regarding COVID-19 requires sitting on hold for an hour?
This really matters. Many of these government services are critically important and often time-sensitive. If a business cannot apply for an emergency grant, they may face bankruptcy because due to restricted cashflow. If Test and Trace systems determine that a citizen may have been exposed to COVID-19, it’s critical for both the life of that citizen and the protection of his or her community that they be notified right away.
Citizen experience is often assumed to be poor because citizens don’t have alternatives to interacting with their government. There is no competition. For example, in retail, every brand knows that competition exists, so the quality of their customer support is important. However, it’s clear that all these services are vital for citizens - they cannot be allowed to function at minimum levels. Instead, they should be employed as catalyst to drive positive change. Moreover, emerging technologies like AI, Machine learning, and Advanced Analytics already being used in other industries offer similar insights and capabilities for citizen support services. It simply requires a need to shift perceptions.
A good example is the Government of Abu Dhabi, which uses a unified contact center model to manage over 50 critical citizen services in the areas of health, education, social support services, and more. This allows them to provide high-quality citizen experiences, while also improving coordination between different government departments – critical for reacting quickly to emergency situations.
Specialized contact centers can be much more effective at building these processes based on their collective experience and sharing of best practices - this is what they manage everyday across different industries and countries. Governments, in turn, need to redefine their citizen support strategies and then work with customer service experts to establish ore effective service solutions. Because providing customer support services is the core competency of these CX partners, this can deliver many immediate benefits like:
- Accelerated service deployment and activation
- Operational efficiencies
- Deep channel and technology expertise
- Proven workforce management and optimization practices
- Extensive and comprehensive security technologies, policies, and protocols
Every government needs their citizen services to be functional – beyond just answering the phone. You need the ability to scale rapidly and adapt to rapidly evolving situations. That’s why it makes sense to find an experienced and trusted citizen support partner.
For more information on planning and deploying emergency response services, read this article from my colleague, Paul O’Hara, who clearly outlines the steps for implementing COVID-19 vaccine support services.