Providing high quality service to tribal members is a key priority for nearly all tribal governments. When we think about high quality service, our first though often goes to the types of services offered. But in the modern digital age where we can get quick responses to questions, requests, and other customer service offering, tribes are starting to place a greater emphasis on HOW services are offered to members, not just WHAT services are offered. This requires taking a customer service approach to engaging with your tribal members.
Consider the following very common example of communication with a tribal member (TM):
- TM walks into tribal administration office and inquires about assistance for utility payments and purchasing school supplies for her children.
- Tribal Admin staff directs TM to the TANF department and the education department to fill out the appropriate applications.
- Tribal Admin also asks TM to confirm current address and phone number.
- TM gives Tribal Admin new address even though TM called and updated it with the Per Cap department three months ago.
- TM goes to TANF department in a different building and tells them they were directed there by Tribal Admin office.
- TANF department provides the application form to the TM who fills it out.
- TANF department also tells TM to fill out a change of address form as TM address has changed since the last time they were in.
- TM then goes to the education department (in a different building) and asks about school supplies assistance.
- Education tells the TM they missed the deadline for the current school year.
- TM tells education department that they did not know there was a deadline.
- Education tells TM the information was mailed to them months ago.
- TM says they didn’t get it and together they discover there was an old address on file.
- Education has TM fill out a change of address form and a request for assistance form.
Does this sound familiar to your organization? As the Tribal Solution Manager for Arctic IT, I have had numerous conversations regarding the headaches caused by de-centralized tribal member data. Many times, each department/program has its own spreadsheet or database with a different address and key member information. This not only impacts operational efficiency, but has a large impact on the relationship between a tribe and its membership.
The question becomes, what can be done? Centralizing tribal member information sounds great, but what about the sensitive information unique to each department? The answer is using a system with the proper security platform. Software like Tribal Platforms by Arctic IT can be implemented allowing shared access and updating to information needed by all departments, but also securing confidential information needed only for a single program/department.
Can you imagine always having the current address for your members? How about a centralized electronic service request that can be routed to the proper programs so your members don’t have jump around to get the service they need? Wouldn’t it be helpful for the ICWA department to be able to see how the children are doing in school? How much better would relationships be between members and tribal leadership?
It’s time to start improving customer service for your members, and Arctic IT is here to help.
By Matt Borkowski, Arctic IT Tribal Solutions Manager firstname.lastname@example.org