Delivering improved citizen services to government municipalities in the Netherlands

11 November 2011 | Joel Cherkis, General Manager, Worldwide Government

​In the densely populated country of the Netherlands, its more than 16 million citizens rely on public services offered by 12 provinces and 400+ municipalities. The Netherlands continues to be among the most technologically advanced nations in the European Union. 

In this technology adept country, however, citizens calling into their local municipality often got the run-around. As citizens called in to ask a question or find out information, they often did not get properly routed the first time to the right department to get their request met. In fact, it often took two or three tries for a citizen to get transferred to the right department. Citizen requests could range from questions around a parking ticket to requesting a change in address. Each call cost a municipality approximately $21 (USD), and with first call resolution rates at just 20 percent, the financial burden quickly added up.

To address the issue, the municipalities engaged Ocara, a reseller skilled in call centers, and Everest, a Dutch IT firm, to build a knowledge management solution that would solve this call center business challenge. 

Everest developed Java-based AntwoordPlus to automate key processes that were previously done manually. AntwoordPlus was initially thought to be an on-premise solution. However, the variances among municipality IT systems and data centers made the road to implementation more complex. So Everest decided to make AntwoordPlus a hosted service offered in the cloud. Everest evaluated cloud offerings from Microsoft, Amazon, and Google, and chose Windows Azure, Microsoft’s cloud-based platform. Open source software is used among many local governments in the Netherlands. As an open platform, Windows Azure could run on Java as well as .Net, which made it a more attractive option.

The implementation brought two primary benefits: improved citizen services and significant cost savings. The new call center system now anticipates citizen requests and if a question is asked in one area or department, it automatically presumes a follow-up question in a related area, and shows that information to the citizen. From a cost savings perspective, first call resolution rates at one municipality increased from 20 percent to 53 percent in just three months. The result has been significant cost savings throughout the Netherlands, thanks to the reduced volume of citizen calls.  

Read the full Everest case study.

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Joel Cherkis
General Manager, Worldwide Government

Microsoft on Government Blog

About the Author

Joel Cherkis | General Manager, Worldwide Government

Joel leads a team of business development and technology professionals supporting policy decisions and the delivery of relevant and scalable technology solutions into public sector markets around the world. Read more