How to Make “Cloud First” work for Government Agencies

There continues to be challenges with budget constraints and legacy systems in all levels of government. Consolidation efforts are increasing, as are the requests to share services with other agencies to increase efficiency. The rising demand from citizens for enhancements like self-service continues to be a driving force for change as well. These requests may be familiar to you as you look to the cloud to create a more citizen-centric communication environment. What criteria should you look for in a new communication solution?

Moving to the cloud for call center communications gives increased flexibility and faster deployment time making it easier for IT to focus on their mission critical day-to-day tasks. Finding a highly geographically dispersed solution lowers the risk of an outage and offers higher availability for operations and call centers.

Sure, there are concerns when considering a move to the cloud so it’s important that you do your homework to make sure you’re choosing the right vendor. Here are my top questions to ask during vendor evaluation:

1. Can you meet my security needs? How will you protect my data and help me maintain compliance?
2. How can I be assured that you will have services available?
3. Who is contractually responsible for assuming risk?

Good cloud providers will deliver a higher level of security and resiliency, in fact more than you might be able to afford in your own environment. Staffing, facilities, equipment, software and 24/7 coverage can be quite costly and difficult to manage. The vendor should have a dedicated security team – that is their only job – to protect a highly specialized network. Offering “best in class” data protection is a good providers’ goal.

You want to be sure that when valuable data is given to the provider that the provider assumes liability, risks and is contractually bound to provide those things. You must be able to ensure accountability of who is legally responsible. Cloud suppliers want to provide service at a reasonable cost and minimize risk and exposure.

At the end of the day, information security threats facing companies are becoming more complex every day. Every company, some more than others, are exposed to advanced threats. Government, finance and utilities are at the top of the list. The cloud provider you choose should have state-of-the-art tools to constantly monitor the solution to mitigate risk.

How can you be sure that the vendor meets these criteria? A third-party audit may give you peace of mind that the provider meets your specific requirements.

I’ve explored the topic of cloud opportunities for government in-depth in my recent whitepaper, “Cloud Communications and the Federal Government: Opportunities to Seize,” which I co-authored with Abdo Rabadi of Blue Kite Consultants. Have you already capitalized on the cloud? If so, I’d love to hear your story.

Giving citizens a better customer experience and potentially paying less tax dollars for it, is a good thing or as I say a great thing.


Three Ways to Meet the Patient Experience Challenge

Patient engagement solutions and population management strategies have been at the top of the list for many healthcare providers. All of this is driven by recent regulations and changes enforced by the Affordable Care Act. At the end of the day, providers are looking to cut costs, reduce readmission, and avoid penalties. What many are missing is the power of the patient service centers (or contact centers) in assisting with these initiatives.

In a recent article I authored on the Advance Healthcare Network web site, entitled, “Improving Patient Engagement: Top five contact center initiatives for providers”, I outlined 5 areas [...]

Measuring the Value of a Customer

I’m as big of an advocate for improving the customer experience as you will find. That said, one thing that bothers me is that too often companies don’t know the value of a customer to their business. When I ask, “What is the value of a customer to you?” Often the answer is, “A lot!” That’s akin to an exchange of, “How does this rocket engine work?” And the response comes back, “It works really well.”

Sure, that customer is valuable to you, but what specifically is the value of that customer? It’s pretty easy to calculate. Essentially, you need to [...]

Customer Experience Makeover – Contact Center Edition

Makeovers come in all shapes and sizes. New hair and makeup, new body curves, even a house transformation that makes those tired three bedrooms and 1800 square feet look shiny and new.

What if you took that same concept – out with the old and in with the new – and applied it to the experience you deliver your customers? And how about if that makeover goes right to the core of the customer experience — the contact center? Together with our friends from TMC we hatched the idea. Our plan is to do a complete, no-charge, makeover of the [...]

Using Your Quality Monitoring Powers for Good

It’s not just about catching people being naughty. It’s also not only about having proof that can be used in a legal capacity. It doesn’t have to be all about punishment. It may take a little more effort but quality monitoring can also be used for positive reinforcement.

For years, and I mean years, I have heard speakers at conferences and read books talking about shifting to a rewarding mentality in contact centers.  Despite the prevalence of these resources, I still hear stories about punishing agents, training problems, and all of the negatives that are often involved in running a contact center. It [...]

Learning Web Chat Lessons From Dell

Depending on the research report you read, chat looks to be the second most popular service communication channel, behind the ubiquitous telephone – and yes, ahead of email.

If that is the case, its no surprise that businesses are trying to figure out how to do chat well! Do I blend chat with my agents who also take phone calls? How many chats should an agent handle at once? What are the hiring criteria for a good chat agent? What tools do chat agents need in addition to what their phone counterparts have? What are the best KPIs to apply [...]

My Multichannel Customer Experience Experiment – Post Script

If you’ve followed my posts tracking my experience with Delta airlines (latest post, My Multichannel Customer Experience Part 3), you’ll know that the airline didn’t do too well relative to delivering a great customer experience. However, I think I might have been critical of Delta for the wrong reason. What I’ve now learned is, they’re not bad, they’re just slow!

All my comments about Delta not responding to my tweets, online posts, and phone calls were a bit premature. This weekend, I got two calls from the Delta customer care people following up on my complaint. I then received a [...]

How Multichannel Service Helps Insurers Win New Business

How important is the ability to service and support your customers in a multichannel environment? Below are the results from a consumer survey that were reviewed during a recent Web event, Key 2014 Contact Center Trends and Priorities – How you can be ready. The results clearly show the value of a multichannel contact center. As an insurer, have you given consideration to offering multichannel service to your customers?

Please rate the value of each of the following being available for you to use when you are interacting with that company’s customer service or support:

(Results displayed include a response of [...]

My Multichannel Customer Experience Experiment – Part 3

So here are the results of the last part of my experiment, which in case you missed the overview, is set up in my blog post from last week, My Multichannel Customer Experience Experiment. Essentially, my experiment was designed to see how Delta Airlines would respond to a service compliment and a service complaint delivered over several channels. Here are the results of my “complaint” interaction:

Phone: Let’s start with the phone, since it proved to be the most interesting. I called the phone number listed below the comment/complaint tag on the Delta website. The speech-driven interactive voice response (IVR) prompted [...]

The Emotional Response of the Customer Experience

Have you ever considered the emotional response of your customers during a customer service interaction? As both a customer and a customer experience practitioner, I thought I would share a recent experience from both perspectives. I’ve also included some tips for how the missteps that occurred during the scenario could have been prevented.

It was 10:35 p.m. on a Tuesday when I noticed a bill from my credit card company, which also happens to be my primary bank. I opened it to find that it never received my last payment and had assessed a late fee, an interest penalty and [...]