Thought leadership

 BT and Avaya research finds that people understand the need for efficiency but still expect flexibility to choose contact channel when dealing with government.

While 86 per cent of people appreciate the need for efficiency only 28 per cent agree that making online self-service the exclusive contact channel for public services would be a good way for the government to save money and provide a good level of service. 

The survey, which polled 1,000 people, found that despite the growth in online channels the phone remains the most popular method of contact with 77 per cent of the public having called an organisation in the six months prior to the survey. Indeed, 54 per cent had used the phone to call a contact centre in the month leading up to the survey compared with 56 per cent for the same period in 2010 — indicating that the phone is holding its own despite the growth of alternative contact channels.  Interestingly the survey also revealed that only 28 per cent of the public were in favour of compulsory internet self-service supporting the notion that the majority prefer a choice of channels.

The majority of people (55 per cent) would like a single number for all government services.  Voice recognition and voice self-service are popular too, with specific uses in voter registration, general bill enquiries and checking holiday rubbish collection times all cited.

Neil Rogers, president Global Government, BT Global Services, said: “People now expect public sector organisations to deliver the same level of customer experience that private sector organisations provide.  It’s also clear that in the multichannel age, they do not want their choice of channel restricted.

“Our Autonomous Customer research suggests that if deployed appropriately, self-service, whether online or over phone, can be a popular addition to customer service channels, creating opportunities to improve people’s experience while reducing costs.  The efficiencies made can help create the business case for new multichannel contact centre infrastructure that can deliver the customer experience people have come to expect.”

Simon Culmer, managing director, UK and Ireland at Avaya, said: “The new challenge for public sector contact centres is to provide inclusive services accessible for all people in a cost effective manner.  The public clearly understands the need for efficiency but not at the expense of choice.  The most significant factor, regardless of channel used, is that contact centre infrastructures enable the public to access the right knowledge and tools to resolve their enquiries in a timely and efficient manner regardless of device used.”

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