CRM critical for states’ services, CIO says

Rapid response during the health crisis was facilitated by strong relationships with agency customers, says Texas CIO Amanda Crawford.

For state government, maintaining a solid customer relationship management process can be as important as the services its agencies deliver, Texas Chief Information Officer Amanda Crawford says on StateScoop’s Priorities podcast.

Crawford, who’s been Texas’ top technology official since last November, says CRM represents government’s “one true service”: customer service.

“Having a customer relationship management process is the way to close that full lifecycle of the customers’ experience,” she says. “For us at DIR, that relationship is considered to be a crucial part of planning of all our initiatives so that customer experience is really integrated in the beginning planning stages of all our major projects.”

Crawford says that in Texas, the COVID-19 pandemic highlighted where there were gaps in CRM processes and, conversely, agencies’ successes were enabled by strong CRM governance that had been instituted before the pandemic began.


“Our ability to be able to respond to our agencies’ needs quickly during the health crisis I think was facilitated by the fact we had strong relationships with our agency customers, so we were able to quickly [respond],” she says.

Texas uses governance groups with varying focuses — such as technical support or relationship management — and solicits constant feedback from customers, Crawford says. She recommended other states do the same.

“Don’t feel too constrained in that you have to narrow your search and narrow your program and have one person fits all of those roles,” she says. “You can have multiple roles within that CRM process to provide the technical support and more of the relationship and problem-solving support that a traditional CRM might have.”

Later in the episode, New Jersey Chief Technology Officer Christopher Rein says his state is seeking ways to improve how it interacts with its customers and that those solutions often involve new technology. Some of the state’s legacy technologies, he says, developed 10 or more years ago, aren’t as effective as they could be.

“They’re built less on a user-experience basis,” Rein says. “You can see that as evidenced in certain of our online services. We’re now taking a look at hey how can we do things to present the state government, the whole of government, to the citizen a little more effectively.”


As for using feedback from customer agencies, Rein recommends always listening, but not allowing those agencies to become locked into old processes.

“If you just listen to exactly what your customers want, more often than not, they’re going to ask for a better, faster shinier way of doing pretty much what they do today,” he says. “And listening to their needs and meeting their business needs is extremely important in my role. But often the right thing to do is not just technology-based but in terms of business processes.”

On this episode:

  • Amanda Crawford, CIO of Texas
  • Christopher Rein, CTO of New Jersey
  • Colin Wood, managing editor of StateScoop and EdScoop

Listen to archived episodes of Priorities from Season 5 (2020),  Season 4 (2019)Season 3 (2018)Season 2 (2017) and Season 1 (2016). Catch all of StateScoop’s podcasts on SoundcloudApple PodcastsSpotifyGoogle PlayStitcher or Alexa’s TuneIn.

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