I have been working on our Service Cloud product at Salesforce for over 9 years. During that time, I have had exposure to all kinds of global customer service stories, each capturing a common thread – customer service leaders looking to close the gap between company and consumer, especially as service experience is today’s best differentiator and most authentic way to connect with customers.  

In fact, this conversation has always been dominated by the company/consumer relationship. So you can imagine my excitement when I saw this train of thought transition to the public sector during the City of Philadelphia's Innovation Summit last month. I was invited to participate in a panel, still focused on customer service—how technology can be applied to connect the customer with more ease, accuracy, speed—but from the perspective of one of our public sector customers as they showcased their Philly311 service app.

Here are my take-aways from that panel discussion at the summit overall:

Customer Service is erupting in the Public Sector…

…and successful administrations understand the opportunity and impact this concept has on the future of their communities. Enter Rosetta Carrington Lue, Chief Customer Service Officer for the City of Philadelphia. The City of Philadelphia has a Chief Customer Officer!  Just think about that--a powerful visionary city has a Chief Customer Officer. This is incredible and a testimony to the transformation happening right now in the Public Sector. Rosetta believes and has created an organization that is driving an impressive vision: “we have to be available when our customers are available.”

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 11.40.37 AM (1) copyThis means city government representatives need tools that give them accessibility to their constituents real-time, in a way that integrates seamlessly with the citizen’s preferences --whether that means online, over the phone, in multiple languages, etc.  These tools also need to give agents the flexibility to navigate a conversation that isn’t typically linear, offering useful shortcuts, agile coaching, and proactive solutions that focus on a personalized citizen experience.

Administrations who understand how to apply technology to connect their citizens to city service in these new, imaginative ways have an opportunity to be first movers when it comes to building the vision for tomorrow’s communities. This empowers government to deliver services that not only fulfill campaign promises, but also build community advocates, closing the gap between government capability and customer expectations. The results: the administration attracts the talent, business, and energy that drive a competitive, thriving local economy. 

Social media is a powerful tool with big impact

The use social media is common in the average American household. While social is still largely used to cover the day-to-day interests of citizens’ lives, it has morphed into a substantial political powerhouse:

Look at police relations nationwide. Philadelphia Police Commissioner Charles H. Ramsey joined the summit late afternoon to discuss the trends police and citizen relationships. He spent much of his time discussing how social media has transformed society, changing the speed and degree at which information is shared across a community. Most recently, social has been a mechanism that fosters distrust between customers and the police department that serves them, as horror stories and continue to make headlines and dwarf the conversation.  

Screen Shot 2015-03-06 at 11.40.37 AM (1)However, administrations that can strike a balance between tech and the community can use social to rebuild relationships with their customers. Technology gives governments the tools to gather information, articles, and other helpful insight in context of the issue at hand. This enables social media monitors and customer service agents to solve the citizen’s dilemma using best practices in a productive, streamlined process. Quality is not sacrificed for the sake of scale, helping governments deliver crucial information in a way that still maximizes budget. 

By applying these capabilities to social engagements, administrations unlock the intelligence they need in order to connect 1:1 with individuals, listen to suggestions, and take effective next steps that rebuild trust bi-directionally. Those who sacrifice their lives to protect their community can once again focus on fulfilling their mission in a way that is respectful and collaborative across the population. “Once people start to see change, and it really starts to take hold, then they start to really step up and take responsibility for that neighborhood.” (Commissioner Ramsey)

Innovation becomes attainable when grounded in a vision

The City of Philadelphia was successful because they started with a vision. Instead of looking at disparate “business” processes, Mayor Nutter’s team started with their customers, outlining what they wanted to deliver at the big-picture level and then aligning details to that plan. This ensured that money was spent wisely and that each task supported a common goal. “At the end of the day, the CIO is about innovating with intent,” shared City of Philadelphia CIO Adel Ebeid. 

Next steps:

Untitled2You can learn more about how specifically the City went about executing on that vision during our webinar, “The Philly Innovates Blueprint.” Rosetta Lue will share their step-by-step blueprint for how they developed and deployed actionable innovation. Join us!—you will see how easily they were able to build an agile, innovative city infrastructure.

Can you tell the difference between public and private services in your community? When your community needs more support, does your city listen to its customers...listen to its citizens? Do you trust that your feedback is heard—do you see results?

We are living in an amazing time of transformation, with amazing technologies that help connect one another in today’s technology-driven world that spans public and private sector. My prediction is that this is only the beginning and this is going to wake up citizen/customer across the world. They are going to vote and live in those communities and cities that listen and engage with them. Citizens are going to demand government engage with them in the same ways the use in the consumer world.

About the Author

Michael Milburn, Senior Vice President and General Manager, Salesforce Service Cloud

Michael Milburn is the Senior Vice President and General Manager of Salesforce Service Cloud, the #1 customer service solution enabling companies to provide amazing customer service on any device, anytime, through any channel. Service Cloud is also the landslide Leader of Gartner’s Magic Quadrant in customer service. Michael is responsible for driving the innovation and direction of Service Cloud, ensuring that businesses are empowered with an all-in-one customer support platform.

Michael has held numerous roles at salesforce.com including consulting, partner enablement and productivity, as well as leading engaged communities. Previously, Michael  was the Vice President of Strategy and Operations for the Salesforce Service Cloud, where he was responsible for creating business structures built for growth, scalability and customer success.

Michael comes into the role of SVP and GM of Service Cloud with more than 15 years of global experience in customer engagement strategy, CRM Design, telephony and workforce management. Prior to salesforce.com, Michael held various roles at Apropos Technology and Barilla America.

Michael holds a BA in Political Science and Philosophy from Ripon College. On the few occasions he is not engaged in customer success, Michael can be found playing tennis, golf, paddle, water skiing and snowmobiling.

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