Use Data to Drive Empathetic Service in Government

Data integration is not a new concept. It’s been a challenge for many years as agencies try to share data while also making it faster and easier for constituents to engage with them. Forming data-driven decisions is the next step along that path as you build an organization that supports empathetic experiences.

When technology, systems or data get in the way of that empathetic interaction or disrupt it, no one experiences a satisfactory resolution. But when they work as one, the outcome is amazing.

Why Data-Driven Decisions Matter

“Data-driven” refers to a decision-making process based on capturing and accessing data from many sources in real time. You use the insights derived from the data to guide citizen journeys, take proactive measures automatically and help agents deliver more personalized experiences.

The systems that store all this data are where employees go for answers — and where digital channels also go for information and authentication. But for most agencies, the data is siloed. Trying to understand what data is stored in which system is a lot to ask of agents and other client-facing employees who want to serve customers quickly and effectively.

Solving the Systems Puzzle

Systems house an agency’s data, but unconnected systems can cause numerous routine problems. Many vendors categorize these systems in different ways, and make different claims about them:

  • Systems of engagement are often regarded as the applications or tools you use to actively engage with constituents, such as email, messaging or even the phone.
  • Systems of record typically store data as pieces of information about constituents, such as a CRM solution. These are essential to any service organization and sometimes are referred to as the “single source of truth.”
  • Systems of insight begin where data is collected and stored or where a transaction creates a record or a stream of records. These might be simple alerts or execution commands automatically sent to a system of action to support the entire decision-making process.
  • Systems of action rely on other systems to determine which action to take, such as handling requests that kick off a workflow. They’re sometimes layered on top of systems of record to make sense of the massive volumes of data stored there.
  • Systems of truth imply they’re the epicenter of all data. But that depends on whether they’re integrated and can exchange data in real time with every other system. For example, some vendors refer to their CRM solution or even HR systems as “systems of truth.” However, if a constituent spends 10 minutes trying to log on — does their system know that?

If you go up a level, you also have ticketing systems, knowledge management systems and so on.

Make It Easier on Your Agents

These systems all perform important functions for agencies, but anyone servicing constituents shouldn’t have to search through them to find the data they need or decide if it’s the right data. Putting that burden on agents detracts from their ability to deliver empathetic experiences.

And yet, engaging with those you serve is more than the sum of several interactions — no matter where that data resides. Empathy, data and integration are closely related. When data is integrated, it gives agents a new perspective and understanding of those they serve.

Empathy and the Role of Data

Empathy is about seeing a situation from a different perspective. We miss those alternate perspectives when we have limited input or data. And there’s a more serious risk with limited or outdated information: You’re locked into the wrong perspective of what needs to happen because you have nothing that tells you otherwise.

Employees in government agencies are public servants. Instead of selling products, they provide a service that’s an innate part of their jobs. Most of those who deal with the public have a valuable skill set predisposed to empathy. For example, a constituent might call to ask for extended services as their end-of-benefits nears. They might want to learn about other available services or options. This still requires an agent to address a problem from an empathetic perspective — with the data to back up the decision-making process.

Connected Data and the Personalized Experience

A constituent who’s a “chronic” caller — someone who calls every day on the same topic when there’s nothing driving the need for all those calls — is very different from a “frequent” caller who might try to resolve a time-sensitive issue but struggle with phone tags. It’s tricky if the data for these callers isn’t differentiated because they both go into the same engagement loop.

Inadequate data drives their journeys and the flow of next steps isn’t constructed correctly. The chronic caller should be directed to a bot that can offer a referral number, for example. The frequent caller should go directly to the appropriate agent. Differentiating these decisions requires a cross-system view of interaction history and intelligent insights gleaned from those interactions.

This complexity becomes a serious problem when it gets in the way of how agents engage with customers. Using a modular approach to integrating all your systems means those employees don’t have to deal with system complexity. Keep your data where it is and connect your systems using a platform with built-in APIs to quickly connect all your systems securely. And you have the flexibility and agility to continuously add to the platform at your own pace.

Government agencies have a responsibility to serve constituents to the best of their abilities. When you integrate all your systems, you can make use of everything you know about constituents, shape their journeys and take appropriate action. That’s a data-driven experience.

Learn more about improving the public sector constituent experience in “Six phases of digital engagement for government.”