Government agencies have mountains of data but lack the means to use the insights from data to implement effective changes in federal programs. In a recent webinar hosted by Gov Exec, leaders from federal agencies and industry partners discussed best practices for how agencies can turn insights into impact by using qualitative data to drive changes that will transform customer experiences.
Evan Davis, Senior Vice President of Federal Civilian at Maximus, explained the crucial role that data plays when creating a transformative customer experience. “Agencies are actively looking for the digital and technical steps they can take to implement meaningful changes based on the data they’re receiving,” Davis said. “The biggest challenge agencies are facing right now is how to turn insights into impact.”
Davis and Barbra Morton, Deputy Chief of Veterans Experience Office at Department of Veterans Affairs (VA), discussed how agencies previously focused on core operational data to measure federal program success. This core operational data would outline average response times, delivery of service times, and time to resolution.
However, when measuring federal program success, the customer experience is equal to core operational metrics. Davis explained that on their own, “core operational metrics can often be myopic when trying to measure success of actions an agency has taken, or interactions individual employees have had with customers.” Now agencies have access to a plethora of qualitative data collected that provide key insights into the individual customer experience and delivery of federal services.
“I think what we missed over time was the opportunity to understand different pain points and moments that matter most from the veteran’s perspective,” Morton explained. “Over the last couple of years, the dialogue here at the VA has changed. Now we don’t only talk about core operation metrics as a measure of our performance, we’re also talking about how this is impacting the experiences of veterans, family members, caretakers, survivors, and all of those whom we serve. “
Morton’s team conducted a nationwide survey gathering interviews from veterans on their experiences to get insight into common pain points. They found that a common problem veterans faced was that they had difficulty navigating the VA medical centers. As a result, the VA implemented the Red Coat Ambassador program, which provided greeters to help veterans and their family members navigate the VA medical centers. Surveys from before and after the program implementation showed a four percent increase in ease of facility navigation.
“The power of human-centered design is that it reveals these pain points that you wouldn’t naturally see on an operational dashboard,” Morton shared. “Our Red Coat Ambassadors program is proof that practicing human-centered design methodology will deliver tangible improvements to your customers.“
Charles Thomas, Customer Experience Administrator for Trademarks for the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office (USPTO) also used this methodology to turn insights into impact when making changes to their website.
USPTO recently conducted a survey that found that small business owners, entrepreneurs, and inventors had difficulty understanding the trademark language on certain webpages. To solve this challenge, they had a cross-functional team rewrite the language on those pages using the qualitative data they had received from those surveys. The USPTO then tested the language changes with customers from the survey and frontline customer service representatives to ensure the changes were impactful. As a direct result, the redesigned pages went from a 75 percent customer satisfaction rating to a 90 percent customer satisfaction rating.
“Customer experience needs to be about putting people at the center of the way that we think about and attempt to solve a problem our customers are facing,” Thomas said.
In every example mentioned in the panel, the use of qualitative data from surveys, customer personas, and journey maps was used to identify customer needs to help create a more meaningful customer experience. However, it’s important that agencies look for methods to sustain the momentum, focus, and commitment to constantly improve federal services in ways that improve the individual customer experience.
Data is an incredibly valuable resource for government agencies. When it is turned from raw data into actionable insights , agencies can make meaningful changes to federal services that transform customer experiences.
Learn how to turn insights into impact here.