A single point of contact for fast, accurate answers
Accenture helped USDA develop a solution to integrate multiple communication channels into a single user experience.
A Customer-Focused Mindset
The U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) is entrusted with helping agricultural producers nourish people here and around the world, conserving our Nation’s natural resources, and providing opportunities for rural communities to thrive.
USDA’s customers include people in rural communities, consumers with general questions about topics like food safety, agricultural producers like farmers and ranchers, commercial food and beverage producers, and regulators. Being responsive to such a diverse group requires timely, consistent answers to a wide range of questions, simplifying the customer experience and allowing customers to choose their preferred communication method.
To serve these diverse stakeholders, the agency has embraced a data-driven, customer-centric approach designed to make it easier than ever for people to interact with the agency and ensure their needs are quickly met.
USDA had previously established a number of contact centers to help customers access information on a variety of USDA-related subjects. However, these Contact Centers were often siloed with limited service channel offerings spanning several agencies and programs, were not integrated, and their underlying technologies and knowledge bases were often disconnected.
Knowing that customers today are accustomed to getting answers in various ways — including email correspondence or live chat — USDA was looking for a solution that would integrate the different communication channels into a single user experience. They also sought a better understanding of customer behavior and wanted robust analytics to track metrics tied to improved customer experience.
Faster, better Service
AskUSDA now offers a centralized knowledge base that provides consistent, up-to-date information for all of USDA’s customer service channels, including self-service.
With AskUSDA, customers can access a variety of information, from how long eggs will stay fresh when left outside the refrigerator to how to apply for a farm loan with USDA’s Farm Service Agency. In customer surveys, AskUSDA.com received high ratings for overall satisfaction as well as the relevance and usefulness of knowledge articles accessible on the site.
USDA now resolves customer inquiries much more efficiently. After deploying AskUSDA, the department significantly improved first-contact resolution for calls, email inquiries, web form inquiries, and live chat inquiries. Further, USDA customers making telephone inquiries no longer must call different specialized call centers; all they have to do is call AskUSDA.
During the first 12 months after launch, AskUSDA deflected thousands of calls from specialized call centers and decreased response times for customer inquiries across all channels. This performance exceeded expectations and industry benchmarks.
With 5,400 articles and more being added as programs are added or expanded, AskUSDA’s centralized knowledge database offers an easy self-service portal for customers, receiving more than 1.1 million article- page views since launch. Finally, with robust customer analytics supporting AskUSDA, such as enhanced Cisco/IVR reporting metrics and custom Einstein Analytics and Tableau dashboards, the agency has the deep insights to continuously improve the customer experience, staying true to its goal of being unrelentingly customer-focused.