“The future may look back at 2020 as a year when governments at all levels reached an inflection point—when driving forces remaking our world prompted long-awaited changes to the way government serves its citizens,” says a recent report, The Future of Government, from Deloitte Insights.
In the authors’ view, continuing the status quo in how government at all levels operate is unsustainable.
“Citizens have a whole lot higher expectations of service, of information, guidance … and a frustration when it doesn’t come as easily and as clearly as ordering something on Amazon or doing a quick Google search or doing another transaction with their bank that is so simple and straightforward. That’s the big challenge of government—how do you react in the time frame with the expectations that our citizens now have based on all the other experiences they have in their lives?”
Technologies such as data analytics are increasingly becoming commonplace within governmental institutions, say industry analysts and policy experts. Adoption of such tools in the public sector, they add, can help accelerate constituent-service missions more effectively.
Already, a rapidly growing list of state and local governments has recognized the significant power and value UC analytics provide toward increasing efficiency and lowering costs, identifying threats and communications misuse, regulation compliance, and improving the level of service provided to the public.
We will discuss how two of these institutions have applied UC analytics later in this article. But first, some additional background on the reporting capabilities themselves.
Taxpayer: “Can you hear me now?”
“Since citizens pay directly for the lion’s share of state and local services through a combination of annual property, sales, and income taxes – and a growing list of fees – they have little patience for delays, breakdowns, or any inability to reach dialed parties for information and assistance with pressing issues,” explains Dan Mueller, ISI Senior Solutions Strategist.
“To eliminate such problems, and to do right by their constituents,” says Mueller, “state and local governments need robust UC reporting capabilities that can figuratively pull departmental or agency ‘fire alarms’ and provide real-time analytics to assess and respond to communications deficiencies. Our public sector customers tell us that such visibility has become table stakes for them, regardless of whether an agency is addressing a public information request or the police department is tracking bomb threats.”
Oversight Board: “You are required to capture that information.”
In many states and municipalities, mixed vendor telephony systems are the rule of the day. Without UC analytics capabilities, managers are often unable to extract and sync call data into a single historical archive.
This is important, for example, when a city compliance manager needs to complete a mandated call search to determine which department a constituent called, who they spoke to, or even if their call went unanswered or was put into voicemail.
In another case, such information is often vital when a law enforcement agency wants to identify malicious call origins and frequencies, or if there is a spike in the number of health department agent rudeness complaints.
In some instances, governmental institutions are required to capture the complete content of individual calls. Ancillary call recording services can neatly dovetail with core UC analytics to readily meet these obligations.
Taxpayer: “I tried calling your department five times with no response.”
Automated online and telephony payment systems for such things as water bills and excise taxes have been in place for many years. Not only have they streamlined internal processes and reduced paperwork, but most surveys indicate that constituents find such services invaluable.
Still, there are times when, and reasons why, the public still wants to hear a friendly voice when they call city hall. UC analytics helps facilitate this, regardless of whether the municipality handles inbound calls using a standard PBX, a call center, hunt groups, or a combination of these solutions.
“State and local governments want to better understand constituent call journeys and take corrective action, where necessary, to be more responsive and improve the overall service experience,” says Mueller. “But they can only do this if they have real-time visibility into such critical information as ring times, wait times, number of individual call transfers, number of abandoned calls, etc.”
Managing the Network
Comprehensive UC analytics can also give public sector organizations the tools needed to perform network utilization, traffic analysis, and future planning tasks quickly and precisely. Real-time dashboards give already scare IT resources visibility into such key network health and optimization measurements as trunk use and peak traffic periods across distributed offices as well as an increasing number of home-based employees.
“This network functionality can play a significant role in boosting constituent service levels, optimizing precious human and communications infrastructure resources, and lowering costs,” notes Mueller.
Carrier Bill Validation
Central historical call data repositories can help public sector entities keep service providers honest by easily validating (or invalidating) monthly service provider invoices.
An initial call rating report request presents all departmental and agency calls (both made and received) by location via a real-time dashboard. From here, network usage statistics can be matched against the amounts carriers are charging. If the numbers don’t match and locations were overcharged, the redundant UC analytics-generated call rating records can be employed by the governmental entity to challenge the carrier invoice. These reports can also be utilized to identify any calling service misuse by employees.
Using detailed call activity reports, state and local governments can identify items such as peak calling times to find the optimal number of agents required to deliver responsive constituent service, according to Mueller. For example, fewer agents may be required for low calling times such as during summer months.
Case Study Brief: Improving Constituent Service
The Challenge: Officials at a Southeastern state government were receiving an increasing number of constituent complaints about the service received when placing calls to several departments and agencies. The list of concerns was lengthy, and included long call wait times; excessive call transfers; call disconnects; a high volume of voicemail redirects; and overall poor service.
The Solution: By adding UC analytics reporting to their Cisco hunt group platform, the state significantly improved constituent service with corresponding reductions in reported incidents. Today, department and agency managers have better visibility into how inbound calls are handled; the length of caller wait time; the level of abandoned calls; call durations and type by department or agency; offending employee identification; and more.
Case Study Brief: Addressing Threats, Theft, Misuse
The Challenge: A Midwestern municipality required its police department to keep a permanent record of all inbound and outbound calls. Specifically, city managers and the chief of police wanted the ability to identify repeat 911 callers, capture information on threatening or robocalls calls made to city departments, and identify communications misuse by municipal employees.
The Solution: UC analytics and call reporting now give the city the ability to retrieve historical inbound and outbound call activity in real-time, with the information displayed on a single-pane-of-glass dashboard, eliminating both the need to toggle through multiple screens as well as endure wait times of days, weeks, or longer to access and use this critical call data.
The Future of Government
The forces now reshaping state and local government are forcing these entities to move more aggressively in technology adoption that directly impacts their responsiveness to the demands of their taxpaying constituents.
To their immense credit, and in communications area alone, many state and local governments have responded by augmenting their Cisco, Avaya, Microsoft Teams, and other communications platforms with advanced, on-demand UC analytics capabilities that provide the essential operational visibility that can result in streamlined and more responsive public sector institutions.