Government Playing Catch-up with CRM

Government execs making progress in service delivery, according to Accenture survey, but say more needs to be done

Government execs making progress in service delivery, according to Accenture survey, but say more needs to be done

Washington — July 1, 2003 — The vast majority of government executives believe their agencies are not yet consistently delivering "superior customer service" although they identify it as a top priority, according to a global study released today by Accenture.

Although 92 percent of government executives said it was "important or very important" to provide superior service, more than 90 percent of the executives who participated in the study said their agencies do not yet deliver "superior service." Additionally, only 28 percent of respondents said their agencies are effective today at delivering services through the channels their customers prefer.

The study, "Customer Relationship Management (CRM) in Government: Bridging the Gaps," is based on interviews with more than 140 government agency executives in 15 countries in North America, Europe and Asia. Among the study's other findings:

  • Fewer than half (40 percent) of respondents said their agencies resolve customer questions efficiently;

  • Only one-third (34 percent) of respondents said their agencies route calls and make assignments efficiently;

  • Only one-fourth (26 percent) of respondents said their agencies track customer requests effectively; and

  • Fewer than one-fourth (22 percent) of respondents said their agencies follow up with citizens and businesses to monitor their satisfaction with the service provided.

"Governments must take their cue from the private sector and better understand the wants and needs of their customers — the citizens and businesses they serve — and modify their processes to accommodate them," said Steve Rohleder, group chief executive of Accenture's Government operating group. "Fortunately, a growing number of governments are taking a step in the right direction by involving their customers in the creation of new services."

The study's findings support this observation. For instance, more than half (54 percent) of the respondents said their agencies involve customers in the development of customer services. However, only one-third (34 percent) of respondents said they believe their agencies are effective at delivering tailored customer services.

"To take customer service to the next level and tailor government services to the specific needs of their varied customers, governments must do a better job of analyzing data," said Andrew Simmonds, the partner responsible for customer relationship management (CRM) services in Accenture's Government operating group. "That data will also help them market their services to build awareness and encourage the use of new services."

The study also found that one of the ways that government executives hope to improve customer service is by offering more service delivery channels — expanding from the traditional office-based customer service representatives and mail to the telephone, the Internet, self-service kiosks and interactive TV. However, only one-third (32 percent) of the executives surveyed said their agencies use multi-channel contact centers that integrate telephone, mail, e-mail, Internet and fax capabilities.

Not surprisingly, the study found that the telephone is now the most commonly used customer service channel, with two-thirds (66 percent) of the respondents reporting that their organizations use call centers to manage customer interactions and 81 percent predicting they will have them in place in the next three years.

In addition, nearly three-fourths (73 percent) of respondents who said their agencies have customer contact centers rated their agencies as efficient at resolving requests, compared with 30 percent of respondents who said that their agencies don't have call centers or contact centers.