Building empathy into our Government Contact Centres

Highlights from the 19th Annual Government Contact Centre Summit

The need for Government contact centres to deeply understand their customers has never been more top of mind for customer experience leaders and stakeholders in the public sector. Customer empathy was the focus of many presentations and workshops at the recent Government Contact Centre Summit: the ability to deeply understand your customers and truly see and feel from your customers’ point of view.

As customers’ needs continue to rapidly evolve, contact centre leaders are exploring how they can bring in the right technology and the right people to drive more empathetic experiences. We heard from a range of those leaders who have applied new tactics to put people at the heart of their operations.

Understanding what customers want

The key to creating empathetic experiences is first learning about your customers, their interactions and behavioural patterns within the contact centre. This enables you to identify and remove pain points at every customer touch point of the experience, for example lack and consistency of knowledge among agents.

Government contact centres are increasingly using customer data and analytics and gathering customer insights in real-time from ‘Voice of Customer’ programs to understand their customers’ needs and requirements. By optimising call data and liaising with different social services departments, the City of Buffalo transformed their call and resolution centre customer experience, and used the data to address pain points with the community, which led to the launch of ‘Operation Clean Sweeps’.

It’s only when you have these insights into your customer that you can consider how improved service design and new technology can boost their experience and help reach customer centric goals throughout the organization.

Building a culture of empowerment

As customers become increasingly comfortable with online self-service tools, the remaining live queries made to call centres will often be the most complex to resolve. Providing consistent high-quality customer service will depend on experienced, knowledgeable agents taking those calls, with proper training and support.

Leaders are increasingly looking at their culture and the mindset of their contact centres and measuring employee performance and engagement to improve customer service. The Department of Transport Western Australia has put specific customer service metrics in place and rewards staff when their objectives are met. By building a culture of empowerment and transitioning their workforce to new ways of working, the contact centre has improved its service with abandoned call rates down by 30%. This positive turnaround is reflected by a decline in employee absenteeism and dissatisfaction – showing better customer experience and higher employee satisfaction go hand-in-hand.

Delivering a seamless customer experience

In this changing customer service ecosystem, organisations need to provide experiences that are natural and intuitive across channels, in order to meet higher customer expectations and preferences. However, it’s critical that when these agencies deploy new technologies and new ways of interacting, they get it right. Customer trust in new technologies also needs to be built by ensuring personal privacy is protected and resolutions are seamless.

Agencies like IP Australia have deployed chat bots with machine-learning technologies with great success, while still maintaining a call centre to address queries that require more. The Australia Taxation Office has integrated voice biometrics to improve the overall experience across the contact centre and a mobile app for taxpayers, with over 1.5 million people already enrolling a voiceprint.

The key takeaway for any agency is the ability to provide consistent, accurate and relevant information to their customers, irrespective of what digital channel they may be reaching out with, is what the future of Gov contact centres looks like. A good knowledgebase combined with chatbots can be used to improve first call resolution and greater service in peak times.

In summary

The Government Contact Centre Summit provided a valuable platform for contact centre leaders and industry stakeholders to share knowledge and experiences, to help broaden their understanding of customer-centric experience and allow for a more reflective review of empathy in their contact centres. It is the sharing of best practice and meaningful customer innovation that will help drive the industry forward.

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Fiona Welsh is a Business Development Manager at Knosys, a sponsor of the 2019 Government Contact Centre Summit in Sydney. To learn about how you can deliver exceptional customer experience in your contact centre request a free demo here:


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Picture of Fiona Welsh By Fiona Welsh on August 1, 2019