At their core, government services should focus on meeting the needs of stakeholders and constituents. A recent executive order on customer experience has placed a renewed emphasis on building public trust by improving the delivery of services. During the pandemic, the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) found that in order to reach the American public and provide critical information regarding vaccines the agency needed a rapid response that was focused on human centered design and customer experience.
When the COVID-19 vaccine became widely available, it was crucial that the CDC get critical information to as many people as possible as quickly as possible. MaryAnn Monroe, Senior Director of Engagement Solutions and Services at Maximus, shared with Government Technology Insider how Maximus collaborated with the CDC to help achieve these important goals and deliver mission success.
“The approach we took to solving our client’s needs was to… [focus on] understanding who we were serving and placing a focus initially on those populations that may not have internet access and who couldn’t easily find information about COVID-19 and nearby vaccination locations,” Monroe said. “We had to think about how to make that information very easy to communicate and to understand for populations that may not have had that access, understanding, or may have found it difficult to find.”
The CDC looked for ways to better serve these underserved communities and provide them with the critical information they needed to get vaccinated. To support this critical mission, they deployed the CDC Vaccination Assistance Hotline, which provided constituents with information on vaccine availability in their area.
At the 2021 ACT-IAC CX Summit, Angeline Boey, CDC’s Vaccination Assistance Hotline Program Lead, discussed the methods used by the CDC to provide critical vaccine information and resources through their customers’ preferred communication channels. Boey’s team found that many Spanish speakers preferred to use WhatsApp as their primary method of communication. They also found that underserved communities that don’t have Internet access are often more comfortable using their mobile phone and SMS texting. To better serve people with disabilities and their caregivers the CDC created a toolkit that is available in multiple formats, including Braille.
“Fundamental to providing great citizen customer service are the human interactions that enable us to understand citizens needs and guide them to proper solutions and services to help them make decisions and address their needs,” Monroe said.
Monroe continued that “even when all technology solutions are available, sometimes citizens just need a personal connection from someone who can empathize with their situation, help solve problems and navigate government resources and services available to them. These are situations when speaking with an empathetic human can help comfort and assist citizens in getting the services they desperately need and the reassurances they are seeking.”
Technology is an extraordinary asset to help federal agencies achieve their mission. However, technology will never be able to fully replace human interactions. By implementing human centered practices, the CDC was able to provide better services to underserved communities and achieve their goal of informing and protecting the public with vaccine availability.
Learn more about implementing a human centered customer experience here.