Improving public sector social customer service

10 November 2017 by Anita Matthews

Improving social customer service in the public sector

Public sector organisations face numerous customer service challenges. They are expected to deliver a high-quality service, with strict budget limitations, headcount freezes and often while using an inflexible legacy infrastructure.

Alongside this, customer expectations continue to grow. They expect to get questions answered nearly 24/7 across a vast range of contact channels. Their brand experiences shape their expectations and they view public sector services as just another ‘service’ which they pay for in taxes.  This increases the pressure on public sector organisations to ‘do more with less’. They need to offer more accessible, digital services but all whilst saving money.

“eGovernment is not about technology, it is about people; it is about putting the citizen in the centre” Viviane Reding, Commissioner for Information, Society and Media, European Commission.

7 key areas for public sector customer service improvement

According to a PWC whitepaper: The Road Ahead for Public Service Delivery, there are seven key areas of customer service that most public sector organisations want to improve:

  • Speed – The time taken to deliver a service should be the shortest possible for both the customer and the organisation delivering the service, right first time
  • Engagement – The manner in which services are delivered should be seen as customer-centric (ie participatory and trustworthy with the customer’s needs at the core)
  • Responsive – There should be an ‘intelligent’ mechanism in place to address any variation in meeting service levels and to drive changes in the service delivery organisation
  • Value – The customer needs to believe that the service delivery mechanism is cost effective, and value is driven by customer outcomes, not organisational processes
  • Integration – The service delivery mechanism should be integrated. There should be no ‘wrong door’ policy for the customer
  • Choice – There should be multiple channels for service delivery, so that customers can have ‘channels of choice’, depending on specific needs at specific times
  • Experience – Personalisation of service is necessary to ensure that customers’ experiences are on a par with what they are used to receiving from the private sector.

Closing the expectation gap

Improving all these areas of customer service without increasing budget can seem like an impossible challenge. If it’s not possible to recruit more people and customer expectations keep increasing, how can teams cope?

Creating an efficient social media customer service channel can help stretch resources further. By using a social customer service app such as Sentiment, public sector organisations can see all incoming social messages in a unified inbox, where agents can quickly and easily work through them, improving speed, choice and experience.

Organisations can also post and publish useful and informative content to drive engagement and help customers self-serve. 

Reducing the cost to serve

As budgets and spending are tightly monitored and controlled, public sector organisations need to show value for money in the customer service they deliver.  A well-managed social customer service strategy can reduce the cost of delivering customer service.

According to research from NM Incite, social interactions cost around a $1 per contact while phone support costs at least $6. If customers are already reaching out on social channels it makes sense to serve them in a cost effective, budget friendly way.  

Diverting enquires from more expensive channels to lower cost social channels can help you manage and buffer any future volume increases.

Improving customer satisfaction

Good customer service is all about improving satisfaction.  To know whether you are doing a good job you need an indication of how satisfied your customers are. Social CSAT surveys like Twitter Customer Feedback enable quick and easy surveys to be sent after social customer service interactions.  You can then benchmark your scores against other channels to see how social is performing.

Twitter CSAT Survey

Proactive not reactive

Taking a proactive approach to any service disruptions can go a long way to reducing the volume of your incoming enquiries during a crisis and improving the perceived quality of your customer service.  Your social channels become an instant go-to location for the latest information, and help reduce the number of people asking the same questions.

Read our blog to see how taking a proactive approach can help improve the customer experience.

Centralised data

In order to provide customers with the best experience it’s important for customer service teams to have access to all relevant information.  Customers don’t want to repeat themselves, so it’s key to centralise all your social customer service data in one place.  A customer service tool such as Sentiment will enable you to get full data visibility and also enable you to understand more about customer needs, the type of enquiries they make, and when your peak contact times are. 

Reporting and analytics mean you can create regular reports on a huge range of customer service performance metrics to help manage efficiency and team performance.

See our blog on social customer data for more on this topic.

Adaptable integration

Social customer service works best when it’s integrated with other contact channels.  Customers expect to be able to switch seamlessly across channels when it suits then and they expect you to know about their previous interactions.  Create a joined up approach by integrating social with your CRM to ensure all customer information is synchronised and available to agents when they need it.

Embracing digital change

Given 56% of global consumers say they have higher expectations for customer service now than they had just one year ago (Microsoft State of Global Customer Service Report ) the challenges for public sector organisations in delivering high-quality customer service are likely to continue.

Organisations that can embrace digital change and take advantage of more efficient and cost effective service channels like social media will be leading the way forward.

Create a solid social customer service strategy to drive process efficiencies and workflow improvements that lead to the ultimate goal – improving customer satisfaction.

Learn how councils can optimise their social presence in 5 easy steps - read our recent LinkedIn blog.

If you are a public sector organisation struggling to manage customer service on social media – give us a try for free!

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Tags: Social Media ROI, Integrated social customer service, public sector