Give your website its voice with Text to Speech 

It’s not easy to provide timely, high-quality customer service and an engaging user experience. For government agencies, this has been a persistent and sometimes overwhelming challenge. Customer service problems deplete agencies’ budgets and strain personnel resources. Agency administrators everywhere feel the impact of ballooning call center costs, increased workloads, and the complaints of a dissatisfied public.

On the federal level, the situation is so urgent that earlier this year, two prominent senators introduced a bill aimed at helping agencies identify the reasons for their customer service problems. State and local agencies are also feeling the pressure and looking for ways to better serve their constituents. Agencies at all levels need to minimize the costs and inefficiencies associated with poor customer service.

Why are customer satisfaction and community engagement such a problem for agencies?

Most agencies are finding that improving customer satisfaction and providing an engaging user experience online isn’t easy. The programs they manage are complex, and much of the information they need to share with the public is critical knowledge to provide, but inherently complicated with specialized terminology and puzzling legalese. Forms are detailed and instructions for filling them out can be challenging with many confusing “if-then” decision points. Often the problem is that there’s simply so much information that its sheer volume discourages users.

Agency managers understand these issues and have made some progress in overcoming them.  Like the rest of the world, the world of government is increasingly digital, and agencies’ websites are on the front lines in their interactions with the public. In recent years agencies have improved their websites, making them better organized and creating more easily understood text, graphics, and user interfaces.

But despite these efforts, they’re finding that their customer service problems won’t go away. Agency call centers still struggle to cope with overwhelming numbers of phone calls each day. Employees still spend far too much time and effort correcting user errors and misunderstandings. And the public continues to report frustration and confusion in its interactions with government.

Meeting the public’s changing needs

To understand these problems, let’s take a closer look at the public that agencies serve. It’s a highly diverse population and its needs are changing. Here are some points for agency managers to consider:

  • Recent progress has been made in making websites accessible to everyone, but using the internet is problematic for the many Americans who have reading challenges, are visually impaired, or have cognitive disabilities that make it difficult for them to process solely written information.
  • According to the U.S. Census Bureau’s 2016 American Community Survey, 21.6% of the population speaks a language other than English at home and millions of other Americans are more comfortable with Spanish, Chinese, French, Tagalog, Vietnamese, or other languages.
  • Recent data from the Institute of Education Sciences National Center for Education Statistics indicate that over 32 million adult Americans are illiterate and over 20% of Americans read below the 5th-grade level.
  • According to Pew Research Center, the offline population has been shrinking over time. 86% of adults 65 and older were not online in 2000 but in 2016 that figure reduced by half indicating the increased need for accessible websites, particularly for those looking to access critical information, such as healthcare guidance, information, online forms, and documents.

Seen in the light of the country’s changing demographics, it’s not surprising that despite their best efforts, agencies still can’t meet the challenges of improving customer service.

Text-to-Speech technology gives your website its voice 

Text-to-Speech (TTS) technology from ReadSpeaker, a global leader in TTS solutions, can help you solve your agency’s customer service problems. Easily added to your website, TTS technology such as ReadSpeaker webReader voice-enables online content so users can listen while the information is read aloud to them. With the click of a mouse, the user can choose among over 50 languages and 200 different voices, control reading speed, and follow along with text that’s highlighted as it’s read to them. And ReadSpeaker’s TTS technology does more than simply speech-enable your content. It also enhances text for viewing by the visually impaired and provides spoken assistance to those filling out forms online.  The technology doesn’t only apply to website content; it works equally well for PDF files, Word documents and more.

TTS is a proven technology with roots in the education sector. Now, it’s proving to be a highly effective tool for government agencies to better engage with the communities they serve. While its translation capabilities are extremely useful for those serving the needs of diverse populations, TTS has also been shown to improve comprehension and retention of information for all users. This means that everyone, not just speakers of other languages, will better understand your content and complete forms more easily and accurately. TTS solutions offer a cost-effective, efficient way to give your website its voice.

4 key steps to improving your online content and community engagement

Follow these four steps that will help you improve customer satisfaction and engagement with your agency’s services.

  1. Use Plain Language to make the information on your agency’s website and documents clear, concise, and accessible. If you’re a federal agency, you’re already compliant with the Plain Writing Act of 2010. Whether a federal agency or not, make it your mission to ensure that all your agency’s documentation is easy to search, easy to use, up-to-date, and accurate.
  2. Survey users to find out what your customer service problems are, then find out what’s causing them. Questionnaires and follow-up surveys can yield valuable feedback and pinpoint the key issues to address.
  3. Provide training and support systems to every employee who interacts with the public. Give them the skills they need, both people skills and the technical know-how. Continuously work to find the best ways to make sure the information they need to help the public is at their fingertips.
  4. Contact ReadSpeaker for a demonstration that will show you how TTS solutions can help your agency provide the timely, high-quality customer service and engaging user experience the public needs.