Governments are committed to implementing systems to help improve the delivery of services, author says
While governments are still struggling with the definition of customer relationship
management, they are committed to implementing systems to help improve the
delivery of services and constituent satisfaction, according to a CRM expert.
Citing a recent Input marketing survey, Jill Dyche, who recently wrote
"The CRM Handbook," said the federal government will spend $520 million
in 2006 on CRM systems and services, up from $230 million last year, representing
an 18 percent annual increase.
"That basically means that governments are committed to doing it," said
Dyche, who was keynote speaker at a public-sector CRM conference hosted
by software company SAS Institute Inc. Dyche is partner and co-founder of
Baseline Consulting Group, which specializes in designing, building and
analyzing customer databases.
Dyche said governments should determine why they need such a system
before implementing one. In a small minority of instances, no business cases
can be built for implementing a CRM system, she said.
For example, she said a state transportation agency had wanted to collect
data from vehicles, which were equipped with a transponder that used the
electronic toll collection system on highways. When she asked agency officials
what they were trying to solve, they told her they wanted information about
where drivers were heading and what they were driving.
"They could not answer one question: 'What value will this program provide
your constituent base?' " she said, adding that citizens could perceive
this instance as invasion of privacy. "There has to be a quid pro quo. [People]
have to feel they're getting something in return."
Dyche said the reasons for implementing CRM in government should include:
* More efficient delivery of services, such as automating services (for
example, direct deposit of tax refunds), fewer people handling services
and therefore lower costs, and lower likelihood of human error.
* Improved auditing and fraud detection.
* Higher level of private scrutiny.
* Compliance with the Government Paperwork Elimination Act of 1998.
* Higher constituent satisfaction.
For example, in Michigan, the state Family Independence Agency implemented
a CRM system providing recipients with electronic benefits smart cards instead
of food stamps, she said. That enabled officials to track where recipients
bought groceries and also helped them monitor fraudulent use of cards. Data
was shared across other agencies, as well as counties and school districts,
she said, and added that CRM data provides a "360-degree view" of citizens.
In Des Moines, Iowa, the city automated its call center on the Web so
citizens could ask questions as well as report problems, such as a pothole.
The citizen can get a tracking number for the problem and, in some cases,
the city provides an estimated time when the problem will be resolved, Dyche
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