Non-profit Customer Care:
A customer service story told in 3 parts.
Part 1: The State Agency…
by Tom Hanson
May 1, 2018
State Agencies have challenges that many commercial customers can’t envision. One of Swampfox’s customers, the health and human services agency of a large East Coast state, has the dual challenges of a large number of constituents requiring aid, while at the same time, a limited budget focused on meeting their constituent needs. The customer service needs for this agency include: supporting a constituency that has limited ability to travel, is limited in technology access and acumen (lower computer ownership than the populace at large), and has specific needs that may need extensive consulting and interviews that lead to longer handle times. When first contracted to help this agency, Swampfox saw service levels and wait times were hard to imagine for our commercial customers. Due to the status as a reporting state agency, constituents have both an initial interview need to determine needs and eligibility and a secondary verification process that requires monthly confirmation of the status of the aid recipient.
In raw terms, before Swampfox was involved, this meant multi-hour hold times awaiting one of the overworked and understaffed call centers, low morale for agents as they had to apologize for long wait times or having to perform mundane verification tasks for simple verification processes. Swampfox was retained to not simply provide “an IVR” system, which the agency saw as a way of handling some of the inbound traffic, but to actually consult on the best way to address the needs of the constituents.
Using Swampfox’s ICE (Intelligent Customer Experience) consulting methodology, we put together a 3 step plan to address customer (constituent) experience and to help in managing traffic. The three steps currently in plan are:
- Reduce/redirect inbound traffic away from Agents for re-verification of eligibility towards an automated self-service interactive voice response system. This was enabled in 2017 and immediately saw benefits of redirecting up to 50% of the inbound traffic as customers that had experienced long wait times for re-verification saw an alternative to complete their re-verification process.
- Managed long hold times by implementing Swampfox’s First In Line application to provide callback to customers, holding their place in line, and reducing constituent pain while also reducing infrastructure costs and agent annoyance.
- Implementation of Swampfox Outbound Campaign Manager as a way to proactively engage and check in with customers, reducing costs and customer pain.
Both the self-service and First In Line solution have been implemented as this time. In part 2 of this series we will examine the lessons learned and some major benefits that have been realized.