In its Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government the federal government stressed the importance of serving its citizens. Since its release last December, federal agencies have been bustling to change standards and modernize technology with the goal of improving the customer experience (CX). As much as focusing on customer experience has already led to positive results, in a recent FedTalks presentation, Nick Nilan, Sales Director at Verizon Federal Civilian, stressed the importance of going beyond buzzwords and focusing on delivering real value through customer-centric practices.
The first step, and one of the most involved and important, for federal agencies has been looking at how current processes are serving people. “Since [December] we’ve seen a lot of agencies really go back, look at, and evaluate, where they are in the journey towards customer experience. A lot of them were already beginning those efforts years ago, moving from a customer service model to a customer satisfaction model, and then to a customer experience model,” Nilan said.
An important part of making progress is looking at how processes are currently working and what the experience is like for customers. This “multi-phase evaluation” as Nilan described it, should pertain to data–how it is stored, accessed, and connected—as well as technology and procedures. Specifically what tools and services are being provided and what needs to be? The answers to these questions provide the basis for deciding what to change.
As agencies gain a deeper understanding of how people use federal services and their experiences, they can then focus on making improvements. While federal agencies differ in how they implement these changes, the goal should be the same: creating customer-centric processes. “At the end of the day, what we really need to think about in everything we do is just how does the citizen interact with us? How do we make it easier to do business with this agency? And then we layer on those tools like AI (artificial intelligence), ML (machine learning), cloud to deliver those services in a way that our citizens expect,” Nilan observed.
While the focus of last year was on improving customer experience and expediting change, the underlying motivation for change is to transform people’s perceptions of government, leading to restoring trust. Nilan encouraged agencies to focus on not just customer-centric practices, but on becoming more customer-centric agencies overall: “Put the customer, the citizen you’re serving, at the center of everything you do, and then you start building your organization around the customer.” It may look different for each agency, but there are indicators that reveal when it is done correctly. When the customer is the focus, the agency’s highest impact services intertwine digital and non-digital aspects, interactions occur when and how it is most convenient for the agency’s customers, and systems and channels are built around the needs of the customer.
The federal government offers critical services that all people depend upon. Ensuring that these services are delivered with customer-centric practices can create a more positive experience for all. With a spotlight on customers, agencies can begin to implement solutions that will increase efficiency and effectiveness overall.
Nick Nilan shared a few more thoughts on enhancing customer experience through customer-centric practices in an interview following the FedTalks. Watch the short video here.