On April 27th 2011 US President Obama issued an executive order to heads of federal departments and agencies to streamline service delivery and improve customer service. The agencies were given 180 days to develop their plans and publish them on their Open Government webpage.

Learning from industry

In the order, the President exhorts government managers to “learn from what is working in the private sector” and to apply those best practices “to deliver services better, faster and at lower cost.”

Turns out, decades of government investment in IT infrastructure looks, perhaps unsurprisingly, a lot like it does for many large corporations. Over time applications accumulate as an organization grows and evolves—each application (implemented over time to solve a problem) offer new features, or accommodates new technological developments and eventually counteracts IT agility. Such a maze of systems and applications, not designed to work in harmony, become labor-intensive to update and adapt to changing needs. The resulting user experience is at best disjointed and frustrating; at worst, irrelevant.

Leveraging existing IT assets

The need to make use of existing IT resources on the one hand, and streamlinig service processes on the other, with the end goal being better customer service (“faster and at lower cost”) is precisely what Service Experience Management (SEM) realizes. KANA’s SEM platform not only circumvents the problem of outdated technology, but actually leverages your IT assets. For example, SEM makes databases available to the service process in a new way. Rather than static piles of data that can be searched for answers, your data is made to inform the service process, actually leading users to answers and options.

Service managers, public sector or private, want to deliver service experiences that work—service experiences that are efficient. Rigid processes stand in the way. By bringing back-office process closer to front, the SEM platform enables an agile process that makes change to service processes possible in step with evolving customer and organizational needs.

In fact, KANA’s Design-Orchestrate-Listen methodology at the core of KANA SEM is a rapid development process, that involves the design and implementation of service processes and customer experiences, comprehensive customer listening and fast response—enabled across organizational silos.

Listening—the only way to stay relevant

Listening and responding to citizens (or customers in the private sector), touches on another key mandate of the President’s order: the call for feedback. Agency plans must include provisions for “establishing mechanisms to solicit customer feedback on Government services and using such feedback regularly to make service improvements.”

Government was already doing this, just not well enough—not as a streamlined, integrated process. SEM makes listening an integral part of the service process. Not only does it enable the analysis of massive volumes of textual feedback, it measures the service interaction itself  (user duration on a particular webpage, choices made given a set of options etc.) and uses gleaned insights from multiple channels, including social media monitoring, to inform process improvement.

Better service at less cost

Referring to private sector best practices that the US Government must make use of, the President says:

Such best practices include increasingly popular lower-cost, self-service options accessed by the Internet or mobile phone and improved processes that deliver services faster and more responsively, reducing the overall need for customer inquiries and complaints.”

As Obama said in his second State of the Union address, “We can’t win the future with a Government of the past.” Transformation in Government to Citizen interaction doesn’t happen overnight and from a technology standpoint, nothing could be more true. But with the right technology, the benefits to streamlining customer service functions are clearly twofold: better service and greater efficiency.


More on the US Government’s IT transformation plan

More on what KANA’s doing in government

More on how KANA’s helping the private sector