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Public Sector

Modernizing Public Sector Call Centers

April 11, 2023
Raven Hedden

Apigee Customer Engineer Specialist, Google Public Sector

For several decades, call centers have played a crucial role in providing support for citizens using government services. However, the massive spike in caller volume and heavy strain on operations during the height of the COVID pandemic has driven government agencies to reimagine its call center experience.

Transforming customer experience and providing intuitive, digital government services is a top priority across federal government1 as well as state and local governments2. Google Cloud’s Contact Center AI (CCAI) and Apigee API Management are used together to modernize and improve government call center operations. This offers call centers better resilience against future crises, higher satisfaction for callers, greater empowerment for call center operators, and cost savings over time for the government agency.

Modernization with CCAI and Apigee

Call centers today are challenged to provide 24/7 support with minimal wait times and informed operators. Without the use of modern technology, it may be very difficult to support the citizens who are calling. Staffing a call center 24/7 is demanding and expensive. Spikes in call traffic are often unpredictable, and can far exceed the capabilities of a limited operator staff. And to make matters worse, call durations may be increased by data that is difficult to locate or outright inaccessible. 

How can government agencies use CCAI and Apigee together to alleviate these issues and modernize government call centers? CCAI is used to offer callers natural interactions based on AI-powered conversations. This means that people can call the  center at any time and automatically be routed to an AI chatbot that can extrapolate the intent of the citizen’s questions and provide real-time intelligent answers. Behind the scenes, CCAI uses Google Dialogflow to facilitate these virtual conversations and communicate with data sources and backend services. 

Apigee API Management adds value by managing the communication between Dialogflow and backend systems, acting as the integration layer. It is the single point of security enforcement so Dialogflow can ignore the complexity of orchestrating connectivity between various data silos. Organizations like Woolworths, one of the largest retailers in Australia, are already seeing success with support channels powered by Apigee interoperability. 


The modernization process: 9 best practices

Adding automation to your government call center will be of major value to citizens. Follow these best practices to successfully implement CCAI and Apigee and set your call center up for success. 

1. Streamline the caller experience

Configure CCAI with your call center to allow callers to skip the wait queues for a human assistant and immediately be greeted by a virtual chatbot. These virtual chatbots will be capable of answering most questions and dramatically streamline the caller experience. This is especially valuable during pandemics, natural disasters, and other emergencies where government call centers receive enormous call volume spikes.

2. Empower call center operators with real-time agent assistance

Leverage Dialogflow virtual agents with Agent Assist to empower your call center operators in real time during the call. These virtual agents provide business context as the conversation unfolds and enable employees to more efficiently find information for callers.

3. Enable chatbots for web & mobile

Supplement your call center with web-based Dialogflow Agent chatbots. Organizations can utilize the same APIs used for CCAI callers to create this solution. This, when paired with the call center, will offer citizens a variety of channels where they can ask questions and resolve issues.

4. Connect CCAI to your backend services

Implement Apigee to handle interoperability between Dialogflow and your backend data and services. Apigee thrives at orchestrating communication in multi-cloud & hybrid environments and when paired with Dialogflow, your call centers and chatbots can too. 

5. Simplify API administration

If  backend services reside in disparate locations with differing security procedures then administering access to them can be cumbersome and prone to human error. Apigee abstracts away this complexity so you only need to grant Dialogflow access to a single service, Apigee. This can be accomplished by publishing your APIs with Apigee products, apps, and developer portals. 

6. Use Apigee policies

Use Apigee’s predefined policies to easily enable integrations, enforce auth, and protect APIs against common threats. For example, use the ParseDialogflowRequest and SetDialogflowResponse policies to easily facilitate the connection with Dialogflow. Use security policies like the OAuthV2 policy to verify Dialogflow OAuth tokens or the JSONThreatProtection policy to protect against content-level attacks. For more information on how Apigee can help protect against common OWASP attacks, visit the documentation

7. Consider Advanced API Security

In May 2021 an Executive Order was made to improve the United States’ cybersecurity, emphasizing the importance of security and any government architecture. For an added layer of security employ Apigee’s Advanced API Security. This uses machine learning models to analyze traffic and protect against API bot abuse like brute force guessing attempts and data scraping. It also analyzes your proxies and creates a security score for each to prevent API misconfigurations. Advanced API Security is ideal for APIs that handle sensitive or personally identifiable information.

8. Utilize API analytics

Analytics dashboards grant you insight into call center trends, help you troubleshoot problems, and enable you to make more informed business decisions. All requests that pass through Apigee are automatically recorded in its analytics system where you can use built-in analytics dashboards to find and filter data. Apigee also allows you to create your own custom reports where you can monitor custom data points through the usage of a DataCapture policy.

9. Reuse your APIs

Once you’ve created Apigee APIs for your call center, it’s easy to reuse these APIs for other applications and services. The APIs can be shared, productized, and documented in a developer portal to accelerate development speed across your entire organization. These reusable APIs can be employed to transform and improve existing services so citizens may never even need to call the call center.

Getting started

With CCAI, organizations can revolutionize their call center experience by reducing wait times, providing 24/7 support for citizens, and by empowering call center employees with virtual agent assistants. With Apigee, organizations can simplify the implementation journey through the use of built-in Dialogflow policies, reusable security flows, easy analytics, and boundless interoperability. 

To get started with CCAI please see the documentation to read about our free trial offering and options for contacting CCAI sales specialists. You can try out Apigee API management today with Pay-as-you-go (PayG) pricing offering or with a 60-day free trial eval organization. To learn more about Apigee and its offerings, contact us to speak with a sales specialist 

1. Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government

2. State CIO Top 10 Priorities: 2023

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