Here’s an example of how looking at a problem through a lens of customer experience (CX) can help agencies arrive at a solution:
Several years ago, there was an issue with black mold in the Army’s on-base housing at Fort Sill, Oklahoma. The problem festered until the local media did a story, which caught a local congressional representative’s attention and led to a congressional hearing.
Through this experience, the Army realized that it needed to make it easier to ensure that such problems are identified and resolved effectively and transparently. In short, this was not just a mold issue. It was a CX issue.
From that perspective, the problem was not that Army employees did not want to provide good customer service. It was that they did not have the tools needed to do so.
“Everyone I’ve ever met in government, including when I worked inside government, wants to provide great experience to their customers,“ said Kevin Brooks, a Principal Digital Strategist at ServiceNow who focuses on the Defense Department and the intelligence community. “It’s disheartening when you can’t deliver.”
In this case, the solution was the Army Maintenance Application (ArMA), an app that soldiers and their families use to report problems and track those reports through resolution. They no longer need to go to or call the public works office. They can even attach photos with their request.
Together, the Army Materiel Command and ServiceNow developed the idea for the app – the minimum viable product, or MVP, in Agile terms – in just one day, and deployed it in just three months. In the first six months after ArMA was deployed, customer satisfaction ratings increased by 35%, Brooks said.
The app is now available across the Army.
Aligning IT, CX
One key was that the app did not require any changes to underlying systems. Instead, it simply connects to systems that were previously siloed.
Sometimes, an agency’s CX and IT functions can seem to be at odds, with the CX team looking for new capabilities while the IT team is just trying to manage and modernize legacy systems, Brooks said. As the ArMA example shows, customer service and modernization are not conflicting goals.
“It’s about getting both sides to understand that you can advance the CX conversation while you modernize,” he said.
Aligning CX, Culture
ServiceNow helps agencies build a roadmap that aligns their CX and IT initiatives. But that’s just part of the story.
ArMA happened because Army leaders made it a priority. They recognized that the service needed to take a customer-oriented perspective. Getting that cultural shift throughout an entire organization is huge, and it begins with getting buy-in from senior leaders, Brooks said. “If that hasn’t happened, the technology really isn’t going to matter.”
This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s guide “Customer Experience Beyond Memos: A How-To Guide.” Download the full guide here.