Problem resolution, done the right way
Some contact centers might seem designed to make visitors feel unwelcome: failing to recognize logins or phone numbers at the beginning, demanding that users repeatedly enter the same account or verification information, failing to understand questions, presenting unclear options, not remembering where a user left off during their last visit, and burying solutions beneath convoluted language or endless click-through screens. Government systems, often less sophisticated than most leading corporate contact systems, tend to be frequent offenders.17
The goal for agency contact centers, as with those in the private sector, is as much first-call resolution18 as possible, with users not needing to return later to find or request the same or related information. Making that happen requires a system that not only offers problem resolution without overly high hurdles but empathetically guides users.
Traditionally, state departments of motor vehicles are serious pain points for citizens, who often approach interactions with dread, expecting hours of frustration. DMVs that dramatically streamline routine transactions can help build goodwill. Effective chatbots can be key to this effort.
The California DMV’s chatbot, dubbed Miles, handles millions of user interactions, answering queries, providing information, and completing transactions. Over three months in fall 2021, of some 2.3 million interactions during working hours, only 6% of users escalated their sessions to speak with live agents. Key to Miles’ success is a constant process of updating its knowledge base based on trending topics and unresolved queries.19
Again, citizens’ interactions with agency contact centers have a real impact on their trust in government as a whole. As we’ve discussed in earlier articles, Americans view state and local agencies—those with which they interact directly—more positively than the federal government overall.20 And since people increasingly deal with agencies online, contact centers are ever more important in building public trust with secure and user-friendly services.
Digital experience is important: Survey respondents rate state and local agencies high on trust if they see digital services as easy to use, are satisfied that online services help them accomplish what they need, and are confident that their data is safeguarded.21
Our studies suggest that markedly improving an agency’s automated contact system can have tangible benefits for future usage as well as broader user attitudes:
More willingness to engage with IVR. Higher initial adoption of IVR, including by those with fewer technical skills, along with increased IVR containment, keeping calls within the automated system rather than demanding to speak with a live agent.
Better caller experiences. Higher user satisfaction due to quicker resolutions, shorter wait times, better information accuracy, lower levels of frustration, and more trust in both the contact center and the agency itself.
Improved results. More likelihood of future self-service usage and, with more user familiarity with and confidence in automation-aided information, increased opportunities for first-call resolution within the IVR system.
All of these outcomes are important to aid agencies’ goals: boosting citizens’ usage of automated contact systems, satisfaction with the results of those calls, and, ultimately, shoring up people’s trust in government itself.