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5 Ways to Boost Inclusion With Customer Experience Data

Striving for inclusivity has become an imperative in many facets of our society. The federal government is following suit. Recent mandates have placed renewed focus on equity and inclusion, particularly related to how people are served. This includes, most recently, executive orders on advancing racial equity and transforming federal customer experience, and the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) vision.

The Administration’s latest update to the PMA emphasized, “Irrespective of people’s age, location, digital savvy, disability, education, or English proficiency, the American people deserve a Government that understands who they are, what they need, and how best to deliver for them.” It also set a target to achieve 75% or higher post-transaction trust in High Impact Service Providers.

In customer experience management, one way we can improve inclusion and increase trust is to consider overlooked, marginalized or underserved individuals. Here are a few practices for CX professionals and federal leaders who want to foster inclusivity as they improve customer experience. 

1. Centralize experience data

Experience data is data that is collected from stakeholders to understand experiences from a human perspective. It’s the data of how people think, feel and behave. Experience data is most commonly collected through surveys but also can come from other sources, such as insights gleaned from analyzing recorded speech, the text of contact center interactions, the sentiment expressed in social media, and online posts.

It’s critical for organizations to have a unified customer experience platform in which experience data can be viewed, analyzed and acted upon. Without this kind of platform, data about what customers experience will remain siloed, obstructing your ability to see your customers and what they need clearly.

2. Reassess your customer segments

Customer segments are usually based on common characteristics, such as demographics or behaviors, so organizations can serve those customers more effectively.  But, what if you’ve missed out on identifying such a customer group, particularly one that needs an improved experience?  

It’s easy to look at the largest customer segments, or those with which you are most familiar, and overlook customers who may comprise a smaller group. Examining customer experience data in search of additional customer segments could reveal any overlooked segments or ones that have shifted over time. 

Identifying non-traditional, smaller or nuanced customer groups can enable government organizations to serve them more effectively—and in turn yield smoother operations and improved employee experience.  

3. Build and use inclusive personas

Personas are fictional characters created to bring a customer segment “to life.” Complete with names, pictures, opinions, challenges and goals, personas help staff understand the types of customers an organization serves. Customer personas are fundamental to human-centered design and a host of customer experience and service design efforts. They also can be used during employee onboarding to help newcomers better understand more about customers before starting the job. 

Ensure you are building and using personas that are inclusive.  Having those personas can prevent under-represented customers who need support from being left behind.

It’s common for government organizations or consulting firms to examine customer data when crafting personas:

  • Be mindful to not to exclude under-represented groups when creating personas. 
  • Use quality customer data to aid you in refining or developing customer personas to ensure they are inclusive.   
  • Use qualitative data to get a feel for what customers are experiencing. 

Designers and CX professionals cannot always sit down with customers, but reviewing quality data can make you feel like you are.

4. Question “majority rules” thinking

How does your organization prioritize IT improvements, strategic website improvements, policy work, or rulemaking? Do you habitually identify a large customer segment and then address a need it has? Majority doesn’t have to rule.

Leverage customer experience data to look at smaller customer segments. What issues do they commonly experience? It’s possible that a smaller customer segment or a vulnerable customer type that comprises 5% of your customers is facing a challenge or making an error that is creating 20% of your call volume. Listen to what customers are sharing about their experiences on a large scale, and use a powerful platform to understand and act upon what you learn. 

What if you selected a project aimed at helping underserved customers that would reduce the need for employee involvement or troubleshooting even more than an IT project supporting your largest customer segments would? 

5. Share the voice of your customers across the organization

Hearing the voice and perspectives of customers helps us learn how to best serve them. Use customer experience data you’ve gathered to share the voice of your customers and employees on all levels, across your organization. 

Bridge the gap between decision makers and the people their decisions impact: 

  • Ensure the information you share is representative and inclusive. 
  • Foster an appreciation for all customers, not just the biggest segment, most common persona or the “easiest.”
  • Start off meetings with customer quotes to help center the discussions that follow. 

Listen to your staff. Front-line employees can help identify why some customers struggle more than others:

  • Host a focus session during which you can hear from front-line employees or contact center staff. 
  • Once you’ve gained employee insights, see if you can spot these trends in other experience data you have. 
  • Use compelling data visualization and dashboards to communicate what customers and employees are experiencing with your organization.  

Underserved customers will remain so unless the manner in which the service is designed and delivered changes. Put these strategies to work to help your organization better understand who it serves and what steps you can take to improve customer experience. 

Jill Leyden is a former federal government customer experience leader. She led organizational change at the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, where she served as the first customer experience administrator. Jill drove customer-centric transformation to better serve trademark customers around the world. Her public service includes nine years of active duty in the U.S. Marine Corps, and she continues to serve in the Reserves. Jill is a principal industry advisor at Qualtrics, an experience management company helping public and private sector organizations create breakthrough experiences across the globe.

Photo by ThisisEngineering RAEng on Unsplash

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