The Secret Sauce of Success – Recipe unveiled by the DC Office of Unified Communications

The Secret Sauce of Success – Recipe unveiled by the DC Office of Unified Communications

Back in 2015 the Washington D.C. Office of Unified Communications (OUC) started a re-platforming exercise of their backbone from an on premise system to a cloud based customer service solution.

The Washington, D.C. Office of Unified Communications manages non-emergency services for 311 callers across the District of Columbia, supporting 17 different agencies, including the Department of Transportation, the Department of Public Works, the Department of Motor Vehicles, and more. The OUC also manages emergency services for 911 callers.

One of the main reasons for this re-platforming was the downtime challenge inherent to all on premise platforms: They need to be upgraded regularly, which causes service degradation or even unavailability.

Other reasons included insufficient and slow reporting capabilities as well as the need to add more self-service channels.

Having strong reporting and analytics capabilities are crucially important for call centers. The biggest thing for them is the answer and solution rate, which needs to be as high as possible.

Additional self-service channels were necessary to be able to cope with the influx of requests and to both, improve customer satisfaction and modernize the customer experience. To further achieve the latter, a chat service and social media channels like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter have been added to the 311 services.

All of these challenges have been addressed by migrating to a software solution based upon the Salesforce Service Cloud, along with some organizational measures.

Being a main KPI, the answer wait time has been drastically reduced from 7 minutes to a mere 31 seconds. Doesn’t sound good to you? Consider that the service still serves 1.8 million calls per year with a staff of only about 80 agents plus 10 management staff! This means that, without significant growth in the workforce, the service capabilities have been improved dramatically.

The social media self-service channels are mainly “working as a convenience factor”, mostly for traffic related issues. While they are getting nowhere near to the amount of calls that are coming in via the telephone these channels serve as an important ad-hoc channel for immediate, situational communications. One prominent example cited by Wanda Gattison, Public Information Officer for the OUC, is the bikers’ community that frequently reports issues with the cycling paths in real time, with pictures giving evidence. She stresses that “today’s tech-savvy citizens are used to fast and personalized experiences when connecting with companies, so governments today need to provide their constituents with n engaging and modern platform to interact.”

A positive effect could be seen on the staff itself. The OUC sees improved staff morale as their customers are also less frustrated and because they now can do a better job at keeping citizens engaged and informed via more and better updates and notifications. This also reduced the number of follow-up calls and consequently increased the ability to deliver solutions.

This increased ability to deliver, in turn, increases the number of services that OUC can and does support. More and more local and state agencies are rolling into their service.

This again, along with the L.E.A.P. (Learn, Earn, Advance, Prosper) workforce development program, helps to increase staff morale by increasing professional abilities and -pride.

The Secret Sauce

This is rightly and truly a success story, not only for the Salesforce Service Cloud but especially for the OUC itself.

According to Ms. Gattison the current success of the OUC can be attributed to the system and the staff to about equal parts.

So what did OUC do?

  • They re-platformed to one strong platform that supports multiple and diverse channels
  • They trained up their staff using L.E.A.P
  • They implemented a rotating schedule that has agents work with different channels

In brief, to the inside the OUC created a positive work environment on top of a modern platform. To the outside it started to offer its customers services on the channels that they need and want. As an example cyclists now can snap a picture of damages of a cycle path, tweet it to DC311 where a ticket gets created right away.