Every (national) government department in the Netherlands is being evaluated every seven years. These policy evaluations help guard the quality of policy development and execution and can help governments improve. We were asked by the Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands to assist in the evaluation of the Directorate for Consular and Visa Services (Directie Consulaire Zaken en Visumbeleid, DCV). with a special focus on their multi-channel management (MCM) strategies.
The Ministry of Foreign Affairs of the Netherlands is responsible for the delivery of consular services to citizens living abroad. They provide ‘standard’ services, such as the renewal of passports to citizens in other countries and visa applications, but also provide assistance to citizens in need and give travel advisories. Providing these services is the responsibility of the Directorate for Consular and Visa Services (Directie Consulaire Zaken en Visumbeleid, DCV).
DCV started various MCM related initiatives in the period 2011-2018 that warranted an expert evaluation. Some of the initiatives include:
- The development and implementation of a 24/7 customer contact centre that provides customer support in four different languages.
- The replacement of the existing ~ 240 embassy and consular websites by one central portal that provides information in 6 different languages.
- The outsourcing of several services (e.g. visa applications) to external service providers.
- The reorganisation and centralisation of the processing of various applications
All these projects were executed in a relatively short span of time. Because of the impact of these initiatives on the organisation and (potentially) Dutch and other citizens needing government services, an in-depth evaluation of these MCM initiatives seemed warranted.
The Policy and Operations Evaluation Department (IOB) of the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in the Netherlands asked us to assist in their policy evaluation of DCV and focus on their MCM initiatives. This means that IOB led the overall initiative and we focused on this element specifically.
In order to complete the policy evaluation, we did the following:
- We collected all relevant (policy) documents from this period connected to service delivery and channel management. This allowed us to reconstruct the decision making processes and analyse the policy process.
- We interviewed 20 stakeholders in the organisation, ranging from the directorate’s management to call centre agents, to talk about their experiences with consular services.
- We collected service delivery data (such as statistics on service usage and customer satisfaction data) to analyse for trends and developments in the effectiveness and efficiency of service delivery.