Public Sector Hopes CRM Guides Citizens to Sites

A wide variety of customer relationship management technologies are finding their way into the public sector as government officials discover the benefits of acquiring software solutions that promise better services, improved revenue and speedy contact with citizens.

A wide variety of customer relationship management technologies are finding their way into the public sector as government officials discover the benefits of acquiring software solutions that promise better services, improved revenue and speedy contact with citizens.Competition and customer service are driving colossal investments in customer relationship management (CRM) applications and infrastructure in the commercial sector, while the growth in electronic government initiatives is fueling public-sector CRM projects. There is a growing consensus that CRM can play a major role in the government's drive to achieve self-service for its customers, citizens and other agencies. Governments and agencies are showing increased interest in the notion of one-stop government, and are devising systems that free up calls to their 911 systems, industry and government officials said. Public-sector interest will only grow as the government's CRM focus becomes having more workers trained to answer inquiries on the first call."CRM is going to be the largest IT growth space during the next two to three years," said Linda Zecher, senior vice president for e-business solutions at Oracle Service Industries, Reston, Va."All citizens, whether in federal or state and local government, are looking for ways to get more services from their government, and CRM really plays into that," said Zecher. Oracle Corp. of Redwood Shores, Calif., the world's second-largest software company behind Microsoft Corp., hopes to make a big splash in the CRM space with its end-to-end solution."For the past three to five years, there has been a lot of noise about e-government, and many agencies and governments thought they could put up a Web site without a lot of meat and offer better service," said Beverly Gibson, general manager of public sector for Siebel Systems Inc., San Mateo, Calif. The company is the No. 1 provider of software for helping businesses manage relationships with their customers.Many agencies are moving beyond these informational sites as political pressure builds to boost their Internet offerings and provide more opportunities for businesses and citizens to conduct transactions online. The reasoning of one year or so ago that "we could do a Web site and that is enough, is changing rapidly. So, there will be more of a spike in growth than we've seen with the adoption of other technologies," said Gibson, whose company's software allows organizations to deploy customer contact centers that include intelligent call management and work-flow management.CRM spending by the U.S. federal government is expected to grow rapidly, jumping from an estimated $90 million in 2001 to between $250 million and $300 million in 2003, said Kimberly Baker, senior vice president of consulting at Federal Sources Inc. The McLean, Va., company provides market research and IT consulting services Like many other technology segments, this area is difficult to estimate. There are varied CRM definitions, and some are more inclusive than others, Baker said. Federal Sources defines CRM as a component of knowledge management that includes spending for hardware, software and services.One gauge of CRM's sweeping popularity is the proliferation of research and consulting groups sharpening their focus on this space. Aberdeen Group, a technology market consulting and research provider based in Boston, launched its CRM@Aberdeen research offering last December.In announcing the move, Aberdeen touted CRM as "one of the fastest growing and most dynamic software markets today." CRM accounted for more than $10 billion in worldwide software, platform and systems integration investments in 2000, and the total CRM market will exceed $24 billion by 2003 and remain a high-growth IT market, according to Aberdeen. New technology has raised citizen expectations, and trends in the private sector are driving agencies to change how they respond. "Today, when I file an unemployment claim, I don't want to get passed from service rep to service rep and wait five to eight weeks for a resolution," Gibson said. "I may start my transaction on the Web, and if I need to go to the phone, I expect to be able to pick up the transaction from there. And if I have to go to an office to do some type of in-person certification, I want them to know I was on the phone three weeks ago and on the Web before that. That is the citizen benefit."The payoff for the government is that the new system prevents citizens "from shopping for the right answer" and tying up different officials for days or weeks, she said. Siebel's government customers include the General Services Administration, the Education Department, the Postal Service and the state of Kentucky, Gibson said. Earlier this year, Siebel teamed with American Management Systems Inc., an international business and IT consulting company in Fairfax, Va., to implement a customer relationship management system for the Virginia Department of Taxation. The challenge facing the tax department was "to completely transform themselves into a customer focused agency," said Jonathan Light, a vice president at AMS. The solution, which integrated Siebel Call Center with AMS' Advantage Revenue, is a Web-based problem resolution application that enables VA TAX to assist customers over multiple communication channels, such as the Web, telephone and e-mail, Light said. The system comprises components that support all tax operations, from electronic filing to taxpayer account management, remittance processing collections, audit, enforcement, policy and research. AMS funds the project and is paid by the state as the desired results are achieved and incremental tax revenue is generated. The company is in the third year of a five-year partnership with the taxation department, with the effort scheduled to run through summer 2003. The VA TAX contract is valued at $122 million.VA TAX, which introduced a new individual tax form in January, also introduced a solution to handle the anticipated increase in customer inquiries and volume of e-mails and faxes received by its customer service department.In a traditional environment, there would need to be "a whole bunch of training about how the new form worked and the complex questions would get handed off to experts," Light said. Using the Siebel system, scripted answers "were right on the desktop of the customer service rep and when the same question comes up time and again, they give the same clear, concise and correct answer.""You now have a device that makes sure each rep has the information at their fingertips, and that they'll give a high-quality answer every time. So, you're taking a lot of variability out of the system," Light said.Oracle officials also see a huge opportunity in the CRM space, Zecher said. That is because Oracle "has front-office CRM applications that are integrated into back-office applications, and a whole broad suite of products it is marketing into this space," she said. Oracle officials believe their applications offer an advantage; they reduce integration time and expenses for customers. Among the trends Zecher sees driving government agency officials to embrace CRM are the shift away from legacy systems that are expensive to maintain and difficult to integrate, and the number of federal workers preparing to leave the government.With droves of federal IT professionals nearing retirement, and the government having trouble recruiting skilled IT workers, the federal government is being forced into more of an outsourcing mode, she said.Oracle designed, built and deployed an Internet e-commerce and customer relationship management application last fall for the Chicago Park District, which needed to make the Internet work for its citizens by building a Web site that enabled class registration from a simple browser.The park district, which runs the city's more than 500 parks and numerous ball fields, field houses, swimming pools and skating rinks, offers more than 1,000 adult education and recreation classes each year. Previously, citizens had to visit park sites during daytime hours and conduct business with cash. Now, nearly half the orders are transacted online with a credit card during non-business hours. Another major CRM government customer is the Transportation Department. In fall 1999, Oracle implemented its iStore, enabling agency departments to accept payments from citizens via the Internet, and its work for the department has since been expanded. Zecher noted a study of the Internet and government that found there were four phases of adoption: phase one, online presence; phase two, interaction; phase three, transactions; and phase four, total interaction. In Zecher's view, the public sector has moved into the early part of the fourth phase, but "CRM is really picking up steam." "Several years ago, three out of five government officials would not have been familiar with the term CRM. Today, we hear government officials say, 'How fast can we move forward?' " Zecher said.

Linda Zecher
































































NEXT STORY: CHANNEL NEWS

X
This website uses cookies to enhance user experience and to analyze performance and traffic on our website. We also share information about your use of our site with our social media, advertising and analytics partners. Learn More / Do Not Sell My Personal Information
Accept Cookies
X
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Do Not Sell My Personal Information

When you visit our website, we store cookies on your browser to collect information. The information collected might relate to you, your preferences or your device, and is mostly used to make the site work as you expect it to and to provide a more personalized web experience. However, you can choose not to allow certain types of cookies, which may impact your experience of the site and the services we are able to offer. Click on the different category headings to find out more and change our default settings according to your preference. You cannot opt-out of our First Party Strictly Necessary Cookies as they are deployed in order to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting the cookie banner and remembering your settings, to log into your account, to redirect you when you log out, etc.). For more information about the First and Third Party Cookies used please follow this link.

Allow All Cookies

Manage Consent Preferences

Strictly Necessary Cookies - Always Active

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data, Targeting & Social Media Cookies

Under the California Consumer Privacy Act, you have the right to opt-out of the sale of your personal information to third parties. These cookies collect information for analytics and to personalize your experience with targeted ads. You may exercise your right to opt out of the sale of personal information by using this toggle switch. If you opt out we will not be able to offer you personalised ads and will not hand over your personal information to any third parties. Additionally, you may contact our legal department for further clarification about your rights as a California consumer by using this Exercise My Rights link

If you have enabled privacy controls on your browser (such as a plugin), we have to take that as a valid request to opt-out. Therefore we would not be able to track your activity through the web. This may affect our ability to personalize ads according to your preferences.

Targeting cookies may be set through our site by our advertising partners. They may be used by those companies to build a profile of your interests and show you relevant adverts on other sites. They do not store directly personal information, but are based on uniquely identifying your browser and internet device. If you do not allow these cookies, you will experience less targeted advertising.

Social media cookies are set by a range of social media services that we have added to the site to enable you to share our content with your friends and networks. They are capable of tracking your browser across other sites and building up a profile of your interests. This may impact the content and messages you see on other websites you visit. If you do not allow these cookies you may not be able to use or see these sharing tools.

If you want to opt out of all of our lead reports and lists, please submit a privacy request at our Do Not Sell page.

Save Settings
Cookie Preferences Cookie List

Cookie List

A cookie is a small piece of data (text file) that a website – when visited by a user – asks your browser to store on your device in order to remember information about you, such as your language preference or login information. Those cookies are set by us and called first-party cookies. We also use third-party cookies – which are cookies from a domain different than the domain of the website you are visiting – for our advertising and marketing efforts. More specifically, we use cookies and other tracking technologies for the following purposes:

Strictly Necessary Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Functional Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Performance Cookies

We do not allow you to opt-out of our certain cookies, as they are necessary to ensure the proper functioning of our website (such as prompting our cookie banner and remembering your privacy choices) and/or to monitor site performance. These cookies are not used in a way that constitutes a “sale” of your data under the CCPA. You can set your browser to block or alert you about these cookies, but some parts of the site will not work as intended if you do so. You can usually find these settings in the Options or Preferences menu of your browser. Visit www.allaboutcookies.org to learn more.

Sale of Personal Data

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Social Media Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.

Targeting Cookies

We also use cookies to personalize your experience on our websites, including by determining the most relevant content and advertisements to show you, and to monitor site traffic and performance, so that we may improve our websites and your experience. You may opt out of our use of such cookies (and the associated “sale” of your Personal Information) by using this toggle switch. You will still see some advertising, regardless of your selection. Because we do not track you across different devices, browsers and GEMG properties, your selection will take effect only on this browser, this device and this website.