Employees Are Customers Too

The President’s Management Agenda (PMA) is largely focused on the experience people have with government. There is one goal to strengthen and empower the Federal workforce and another focused on delivering excellent, equitable, and secure Federal services and customer experience. These two goals are closely linked, as the better experience employees have, the better service they will provide.

Happy Employees = Happy Customers

Research shows that organizations that excel at customer experience have higher levels of employee engagement — up to one and a half times. The semantic shift from “citizen” experience to “customer” experience in the PMA and subsequent Executive Orders is notable as it broadens the audience for the service. Employees are customers as much as citizens are, and using the more encompassing term allows for those internal (employee) customers to be included in the goals and measures. In practice, this means digital solutions that are implemented must meet not only the needs of the end customer, but make serving that customer easier.

Building Experience in From the Beginning

OMB circular A-11 provides guidance to agencies pulling together their budget requests, including tips to ensure that programs they are requesting money for have the right back-up rationale to get approved. Within this circular, OMB states that, “Measures of experience (including measures of equity e.g., participation), effort (burden/friction), and those outlined further in this guidance are of co-equal importance as traditional measures of financial and operational performance.” Basically, it states that being able to measure the way a program delivers an equitable, customer-friendly experience is just as important as showing a financial return on investment. This is critical as it links customer experience to budget, a process that all agencies understand and need to follow.

Similarly, there is also a move to have customer experience built into RFPs. Instead of measuring RFP responses solely on meeting technical requirements, a measure of usability should also be included as a key metric.

The Mandate to Change

The Executive-level guidance of the PMA (and subsequent executive orders) is giving agencies permission to try new approaches to work and service. A handful of agencies have appointed Chief Customer Experience Officers to help centralize and oversee investment decisions around government citizen engagement. Consistency is critical, as the number of pathways people can take to reach government agencies has exploded in recent years with new digital tools. The Agriculture Department launched AskUSDA to serve as the single “front door” to deliver a centralized contact center experience that aims to help customers get consistent and streamlined information. The program supports customer inquiries through the web, on the phone, through an online chat, and email.

Making the Government an Employer of Choice

For employees providing service, this availability of a central point of truth gives them a home base for answering questions. It also means that once people reach a live person for help they have already gotten many basic questions answered, making the work that employees provide more meaningful than just repeating an address or phone number.

With today’s job market, it is more important than ever to keep the Federal workforce engaged. New digital solutions should make their lives easier, not harder while also serving the needs and expectations of an increasingly service-savvy citizen population. With the right automation, Federal employees can get the information they need to answer citizen questions and build trust in the way the government works for the people.

As the founder of GovEvents and GovWhitePapers, Kerry is on a mission to help businesses interact with, evolve, and serve the government. With 25+ years of experience in the information technology and government industries, Kerry drives the overall strategy and oversees operations for both companies. She has also served in executive marketing roles at a number of government IT providers.

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