Contact Center Municipality of Breda puts itself on the map
Erik Bouwer | Ziptone
How do you increase the visibility of the municipal KCC? It doesn’t happen automatically, but it’s a matter of taking action. Inviting people, placing roll-up banners in strategic locations. We spoke with Thom van der Giessen, manager of the KCC, about the profiling of the customer contact center of the Municipality of Breda.
“How do colleagues from other departments view the KCC? I’ve seen that change quite a bit in the past eight years. Other departments now recognize the importance of involving the KCC and are much more ready to assist the KCC. ‘Do you have a question for us? Let us know.’ Departments now pay much more attention to customer questions that remain open for a while; they ask for explanations or support earlier,” said Thom van der Giessen, manager of the KCC of the Municipality of Breda.
“The KCC is not there to transfer calls; we want to handle 80 percent of all questions ourselves. This is easy in some areas, like Civil Affairs; in some areas, a portion of the questions quickly become too detailed and need to be referred to a specialized department, such as obtaining an event permit.”
About the Municipality of Breda Contact Center – Last year, the Contact Center, handled approximately 284,000 customer contacts. The majority of the questions come in through the phone (160,000 calls). Additionally, we process reports from citizens that come in through the BuitenBeter app or a web form (70,000). Less intensively used channels are WhatsApp (13,000 messages) and email (27,000). We also handle requests such as waste passes and physical forms (14,000). The Municipality of Breda has about 186,000 residents. In addition to the city of Breda, the villages of Bavel, Effen, Prinsenbeek, Teteringen, and Ulvenhout are part of the municipality. There are approximately 3,000 employees at the Municipality of Breda.
Creating a realistic picture
“We invite new colleagues within the municipality. In a program of about an hour and a half, we tell them what the KCC does and let them listen in. The latter certainly contributes to a correct understanding of what we do here. Handling hundreds of calls per day is different from ‘the phone ringing occasionally.’ It also shows how wide the spectrum of questions that come to the KCC is. The Advice Service department of the KCC also has a good relationship with all other departments within the municipal organization, which further enhances our visibility. Achieving this situation has required a fair amount of work. In the past, I worked at organizations like ABN Amro and Rabobank. In such environments, customer contact professionals are more inclined to actively reach out to show what they do: ‘Look how good we are.’ In the world of municipalities, there is often – and wrongly – a bit more modesty.”
Another way the KCC enhances its visibility within the municipal organization is by creating an infographic with the key figures and results of the KCC. “We release it annually and then place it as a roll-up banner in strategic locations in our building. For example, in places where the mayor and aldermen frequently pass by. Now, everyone knows what the KCC is and what we do. And we are naturally part of service processes, both for structural matters and for more current developments and changes.”
When a new municipal council is installed, the new members are invited. “When they visit, council members naturally look at citizen and business contacts through their own perspective. Often, their understanding, just like that of new colleagues, is not complete; that’s not unusual because council members often have full schedules and broad areas of focus,” Van der Giessen explains.
Knowledge management increases agility
The pressure on the municipality is high: local and national politics ensure that change is a constant – while there are also core tasks that the municipality (and thus the KCC) must carry out year after year. What are the challenges for the KCC in responding to changing circumstances? Van der Giessen:
“It is important to have systems that support your work processes. This includes solutions that help translate and unlock information from within the organization to citizens. The KCC plays a role in this. When I arrived here, for example, there was no knowledge management solution tailored to the needs of the KCC. And, of course, it remains a challenge to keep everyone focused on the right sequence: first involve the KCC and then send a message out to the world.”
KCC provides customer expertise
“Nevertheless, you cannot completely avoid all peaks in customer contact,” Van der Giessen points out. “Think of the support we had to provide for issues like the energy surcharge. That is determined nationally and then translated and executed by the municipalities. Am I eligible or not, how do I apply, what can I do if I don’t have internet access? For such large projects, the KCC provides knowledge and expertise to a project team – call it an expert who ‘looks through the eyes of the customer’ – to ensure processes are realistic enough. And, of course, we support our residents in making applications; all questions are welcome.”
Not only is the outside world changing rapidly, but there is also a roadmap for the internal processes of the KCC. Breda has been using Genesys Cloud for routing telephone contacts for a year. “Frontline Solutions has integrated it with Visma Circle, also known as Djuma, our case system. This integration allows us to recognize callers, and KCC employees immediately have the right information on their screens: customer information, previous contacts, the status of ongoing matters, and next steps. Of course, all within the framework of GDPR and security.”
“My tip for fellow KCC managers in customer contact? Build trust in your department. My experience is that employees often operate very cautiously; it’s not a disaster if you make a mistake once.”
“Such integration is becoming increasingly important: customers expect more and more of a ‘bol.com experience,’ as we call it here. But the policy is also that customer contact from the municipality needs to become more omnichannel, with a consistent customer view, even when there has been contact through different channels. The case system also draws from other systems as a central solution – this allows employees to see the status of applications, for example. KCC employees can therefore handle more matters, reducing the need for transfers.”
Self-service becomes indispensable Omnichannel, of course, cannot exist without the self-service pillar – so the Municipality of Breda is working hard to make relevant parts of Visma Circle available in the “My Environment.” This also contributes to the bol.com experience: citizens can then see the progress of more processes, which reduces the need for questions, Van der Giessen explains. “The biggest challenges in this regard lie in achieving integrations. Nationally, Common Ground has been established to contribute to standardization. We expect to have ‘My Breda’ live sometime next year. We will also add information that is managed at the national level, such as the registered address. Currently, this can only be accessed through mijnoverheid.nl. And perhaps we will also allow emails to come into Genesys, and then you can route emails to employees. There are still plenty of opportunities to improve or optimize processes.”