How agencies can use automation to streamline citizen services
This content is sponsored by Pegasystems, Inc.
The pandemic has created increased demand for online government services as physical locations and employees have been sent home. But in many cases, that meant citizens were relegated to the phone or email when communicating with their government, and those channels were quickly overwhelmed. Even agencies that offer more options than this often have not linked them in a way that provides streamlined services to citizens. So how can agencies evolve to provide simple, unbureaucratic, personalized services, and give citizens the information they need the way they want and expect in today’s digital age?
Automation, in its various forms, can help agencies achieve this goal. For example, a simple automation implementation can go a long way in alleviating this email overload.
“A state agency has been overwhelmed by high volume of phone calls and staff shortages due to the pandemic. Many calls were from citizens trying to schedule coverage appointments or inquire about benefits from their provider; however, agency service providers had difficulty communicating with the agency to let them know their availability and extended hours of operation. The lack of real-time updates created unnecessary friction for everyone involved, ”said Rosetta Carrington Lue, director and director of industry for state and local governments at Pegasystems. “To help improve vendor data updates on scheduling availability, agency management decided to set up multiple mailboxes for these vendors. Unfortunately, diverting calls to emails only exacerbated the problem. If state agencies do not automate this process, using artificial intelligence or through some robotics, these emails usually remain in a queue until an agent takes charge of handling the request manually. document. And I’ve seen scenarios where agencies will tell you it could take up to 10 days just to respond to a simple request.
But many of these requests are simple enough – or at least, asked frequently enough – that the answer is readily available through a real-time FAQ. Answers to questions of this nature can be digitized using AI; in fact, everyone interacts with this form of automation on a daily basis. It’s the same type of technology that provides suggestions or answers when you type in a search in Google. If agencies can implement this type of technology in their case management systems, they can avoid passing most of these questions to an employee and make significant progress on their backlog. Employees can then spend more time on more complex conversations and citizen needs.
And that’s just the tip of the iceberg. Answering frequently asked questions via email isn’t the only repetitive task that no longer requires human intervention. Federal, state, and local government agencies have discovered new efficiencies in automating their back-end processes and have made progress toward the final resolution of one of the oldest and most repeated complaints about every government in history: Why Should- it so long to get something finished?
“The number one goal of someone who works in the public service is to really help the citizen. If you’re in the customer service business and you support government, that’s what really motivates you, ”Lue said. “So there is nothing more frustrating than an employee trying to help a citizen who is having a difficult or frustrating process to obtain benefits or answers or to resolve a situation. You want to focus on helping that person. But they have these awkward system and process barriers. In order for the employee to go from A to B in a simple way, they must try to go through several iterations, different systems quickly, while putting the person on hold. Most of the technology platforms that exist in government are not really designed for today’s rapidly changing environment.
Unfortunately, due to decades of investment and customization, these systems cannot simply be ripped off and replaced. But what agencies can do is use low-code development to wrap automation around these systems and create more streamlined case management systems. For example, an employee of a local government dealing with pothole complaints should use at least two different systems: one to check the status of a citizen complaint to ensure that it has been received and registered, and another to determine when workers will be sent. And that’s just for a simple pothole complaint; some agencies may have more than a dozen different systems that contain information relevant to a single citizen survey.
With low-code development, employees can create a single dashboard requiring only one login, which uses automation to pull all of this relevant information from each system and deliver it in a unified view. This streamlines their ability to help the citizen and makes the process more efficient and faster.
Finally, automation can be used to create true omnichannel experiences for citizens. Some providers offer multiple communication channels – phone, email, chatbots, etc. – and call it omnichannel. But true omnichannel communication means everything is linked centrally. So if a citizen starts filling out information on a website, but decides they need help and calls the agency directly, the employee on the phone would already have access to the information that the citizen filled in online, rather than having to ask him to start over. . It’s real omnichannel. You meet the citizen where he is, and not the other way around.
“What this omnichannel experience gives you is that the citizen can do business with the government 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, 365 days a year. It really gives them that preferred channel of choice with a single interface, which improves government efficiency and eliminates the many and multiple disparate applications that citizens have to use, ”said Lue. “Leaders of government agencies can enhance their digital citizen experience by automating complex processes while focusing on the citizen journey. At the same time, agencies will improve the employee experience and support their delivery of exceptional customer service while using AI-inspired automation and self-service tools, regardless of the technology already in place, including existing service offices.