Improving the constituent and federal employee user experience has been a hot topic since President Biden issued the executive order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience. Since this Executive Order, agencies have kicked it into high gear to meet the needs of its stakeholders and constituents. In a recent webinar hosted by Federal News Network, industry and government CX experts shared their best practices to make this goal a reality. Here are the top takeaways all federal agencies can use to improve federal employee and customer user experiences.
Trends in the Federal Employee Experience
- The employee user experience begins during the application process.
The federal employee experience begins even before a job candidate accepts an offer. The application process is a part of the federal employee user experience that can be better put to work to attract the best candidates to a position. Mary Ann Monroe, Senior Director of Total Experience Solutions and Services at Maximus, shared her input on how this process can become applicant-centric.
“We want to try and make that [the application process] as seamless as possible and [ensure] there’s communication afterward [setting expectations],” shared Monroe. “We’ve received your application, we’ll be in touch with you within ‘x’ days, or hours, etc. So being proactive in telling people what’s next is a great part of improving that overall user experience.
- Agencies can use technology to enhance employee experiences.
A great example of how technology can be used to improve federal employee user experiences was shared by Josh Lehmann, Director of the Office of Business and Customer Assurance at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). The FDA proposed using an information technology (IT) kiosk to help the agency’s employees save time and resources and the results were quite impressive.
“What this [kiosk] gave people was the flexibility to say, ‘I’m going to stop by when I’m going to lunch.’ We anticipated that scheduling issues would go away while being able to have more flexibility,” said Lehmann “What wound up happening is that people really liked it; almost better than having someone come to them.”
- Agencies need to be not afraid to seek feedback.
It is easy for employees to feel like they are just a number, especially in large federal agencies; this is why federal agencies must seek employee feedback. A positive and valuable feedback loop can be achieved through employee surveys and listening roundtables. More importantly, agencies need to make actionable improvements based on the results and let employees know how the agency intends to use their feedback. To take it a step further, agency leadership can engage employees by having them be a part of the solution. After all, happy employees lead to happy customers.
Trends in Federal Customer Experience
- One size doesn’t fit all.
Ensuring services are available in a variety of languages makes sure as many constituents as possible can access services and ensures that underserved communities have access. Many people struggle to navigate agency websites, and users can become overwhelmed and abandon their interaction, missing the opportunity to access resources and find solutions. Leilani Martinez, the Acting Director for Public Experience Portfolio at the General Services Administration, spoke about her experiences meeting Spanish-speaking customers’ particular needs with data-driven insights.
“I want to emphasize, because we were talking about customer experience, that what we do with our Spanish side is not a translation. We look at the data we have collected over time, which shows the needs of Spanish speakers; some are similar to English speakers, and some are not,” said Martinez, “One of the most popular topics on the Spanish side is immigration-related issues. As you can imagine that section on the Spanish site is much more developed and provides much more context than the section on immigration on the English site.”
- Agencies need to focus on human-centered design.
What is unique about the federal customer base is that it encompasses all people living in the United States. Not only do they have different needs, but they come from different walks of life and have different levels of experience and familiarity with technology. Some people prefer to use their mobile devices to interact with the government, while others prefer to speak to a real person. To meet this widely diverse needs, agencies need to focus on human-centered design. To deliver a human-centered design experience agencies should gather user data and work with their IT and user experience (UX) teams.
Monroe spoke about an example with the Department of Defense (DoD): “The DoD brings service members into the process by interviewing them to help understand and identify what problems they [service members] are trying to solve so they [the DoD] can bring that feedback back to the team,” said Monroe “That [feedback] can be envisioned, and the appropriate next steps in the UX and design lifecycle can occur. It’s important that they [the DoD] are engaging with the people they’re designing these services and solutions for.”
Internal and external government customers are two different audiences, but as seen in this recent webinar, there are some overlapping themes in improving their experiences. These themes can help government agencies rethink their approaches in both the federal employee and customer arenas.
To learn more about how government agencies can improve the federal employee and customer user experience, click here.