Government CRM Software


By Paul Greenberg
customer relationship management

The More Tangible Benefits

You might be thinking “well, all that’s noble, but it doesn’t make my job easier or provide me with a tangible result that I can see, touch, or be bumped up a paygrade for.”

CRM (any version) has significant verifiable benefits that are well documented. For example, a study was done in 2004 by Deloitte Touche on the achievement of performance goals within constituency-centered government vs. the more typical administratively-centered versions at the state and local levels.  Here are some of the results:

  • When the performance goal was more customers served, 75% of the constituency-centered governments achieved it vs. 41% for their more traditional colleagues.
  • When the goal was easier customer access, 100% of the constituency-centered government organizations achieved it, vs. 46% of their traditional brethren.
  • When the goal was less employee time on non-customer activities, 77% of the CRM-focused agencies achieved it, vs. 22% of the less savvy other agencies.

The benefits don’t stop with results like these.  Many of the programs that are now popular government initiatives are the result of constituent-centered strategies. For example, the desire for responsiveness is what led to New York City and Anaheim California to implement 311 hotlines so that non-emergency phone calls can be routed to the appropriate agencies – rather than a random hope that it will be the right one. The GSA has a similar operation for the federal agencies as part of their USA Services initiatives.

The benefits are apparently becoming increasingly obvious to government agencies. With a general growth rate that market analyst organization Gartner Group projects will take SaaS from the 5% of all business software spending it was in 2005 to 25% in 2011 (in CRM it was 12% in 2006), Gartner also found that the government was among the top ten vertical industries to adopt SaaS in 2005 (number 6 to be exact).

CRM in the 21st Century Public Sector

Aside from the factors above, which have been under discussion and out for implementation for years, there are some new constituent “complications” beginning to show themselves as the 21st century progresses – complications that make the need for CRM in the public sector all the more important. Interestingly, we’ve seen it in the rise of a social (not business or government) phenomenon – one characterized by the peer-to-peer interactions via the internet and the subsequent empowering of the constituents through the use of new forms of communication and distribution – the blogs, wikis, podcasts, and social networks like Facebook that are getting so much current press. Couple that with the proliferation of mobile devices such as smartphones like the iPhone which do so much, or the Blackberry for instant email access, in combination with the growth of text messaging as a standard means of communication, and you end up with a constituent demanding much more than just “sufficient response” but one that truly wants to participate in the machinery of the government – either through the political process or via a deeper interaction with the agencies that they have to be involved with. But the proliferation of real-time, inexpensive communications via the web means there is no longer the time to have a phone call returned from an agency. There needs to be an online response in a matter of seconds for the constituent’s expectation to be merely fulfilled, not even exceeded. There is no excuse to not have this as an operating part of your constituent services. The tools are there and are part of the mainstream of communications.

Among others, the tools are the blogs, wikis, podcasts and user communities that are increasingly being utilized by government agencies and institutions at all levels.  These are well established media and easily accessible because they are web-based. They are the evolution of the programs that stemmed from the Quicksilver initiatives that were launched in 2002 by the then Office of Management and Budget’s Associate Director of IT, Mark Forman.  As Forman stated at that time in Washington Technology magazine “As consumers, citizens have become accustomed to high levels of service, that, in the past, government hasn’t been able to provide. The president has made it clear that the federal government has to become more focused on better servicing citizens.”  The rapid proliferation of blogs at the federal, state and local levels stemmed from this mandate for cultural change, regardless of how well or poorly it has succeeded to this point. (See Figure 2 for some examples of federal blogs)

USA.gov blog