Unlikely Partners: Social Security Turns to NFL for Customer Service Help
The SSA recently approached the Baltimore Ravens, citing the team’s reputation for providing a good customer service experience to their fans.
In its quest to improve its customer experience, the Social Security Administration (SSA) has turned for advice to several places, including JP MorganChase, the Federal Retirement Thrift Investment Board, Fannie Mae, and Target Corp.
Another place the agency went was an unlikely one: the Baltimore Ravens.
According to Federal News Network, the SSA recently approached the Ravens, citing the team’s reputation for providing a good customer service experience to their fans. SSA is also headquartered in Baltimore County, near the Ravens.
“One of the questions we asked the Baltimore Ravens was how business intelligence analytics changed their service delivery model?” Patrick Newbold, the assistant deputy commissioner and deputy chief information officer at SSA, said on the Ask the CIO podcast.
“The Ravens shared an excellent use case with us on how data was able to challenge one of their assumptions on fan demographics. Early on, when they started to aggregate that data, that data disproved assumptions they had about their season ticket holders. Their fans were a lot younger than the marketing assumed. So that led them to change the music they played, the food and drinks they served, and how they engaged those fans.”
SSA is hoping to take examples from how the Ravens have served their fans, and apply those lessons to Social Security recipients.
“We want to use data to monitor and improve the way we do business and services and deliver our services to our citizens,” Newbold added, per the report. “We also shared several challenges. One was the importance of data collection. The Baltimore Ravens leverage NFL-wide data as well as their Baltimore Ravens-specific data. They use that data to inform decisions.”
“Key points that we learned from Baltimore Ravens and throughout the discussions is really having that strong governance, but also they highlighted how they use data as a tool, not as the final answer,” Newbold said on the podcast. “That resonates with us because as we invest more beyond technologies as an agency, we also must recognize that other factors inform decisions, so data is critical and important, but not the only factor.”
There have been a series of reports, since the start of the pandemic of poor customer service on the part of Social Security, including long wait times on the phone and difficulty getting through for in-person appointments.
The House of Representatives even held a hearing, in May, called “Strengthening Social Security’s Customer Service.”
Last month, Sen. Bernie Sanders (I-VT) and a group of Democratic senators teamed up to introduce a new plan, to extend the solvency of Social Security for up to seventy-five years.
Stephen Silver, a technology writer for The National Interest, is a journalist, essayist and film critic, who is also a contributor to The Philadelphia Inquirer, Philly Voice, Philadelphia Weekly, the Jewish Telegraphic Agency, Living Life Fearless, Backstage magazine, Broad Street Review and Splice Today. The co-founder of the Philadelphia Film Critics Circle, Stephen lives in suburban Philadelphia with his wife and two sons. Follow him on Twitter at @StephenSilver.