This blog is an excerpt from GovLoop's recent research brief "Connecting Customer Experience to Employee Engagement." Download the full research brief here.
A growing body of research shows that, regardless of industry, an engaged workforce leads to a better customer experience. For government, a better customer experience is especially important, as citizens increasingly expect the same level of services from agencies as their private-sector counterparts.
The good news is that government employees seem relatively engaged. In fact, the latest Federal Employee Viewpoint Survey shows 65 percent engagement in the government workforce, the highest since 2012. The bad news, however, is that citizen satisfaction with government services appears to be at an all-time low. According to a recent Gallup survey, government is significantly behind the private sector in terms of customer service ratings.
How can these differing narratives be reconciled? GovLoop and Genesys, an omnichannel customer experience solutions provider, conducted a survey of 642 government employees to find out their views about customer service and employee engagement, including frontline customer service employees. Experts Jodi M. Thompson, Senior Principal Business Consultant for Strategic Business Consulting, and Stefan Captijn, Senior Director of Product Marketing at Genesys, helped highlight the important findings of the survey and the connection between employee engagement and customer experience.
According to the recent survey, employee engagement and the customer service experience are directly correlated and more important for government to think about than ever before. In fact, 93 percent of survey respondents said that they see improved internal employee engagement as a key factor to improving customer experiences and engagement.
In order to strengthen both areas, government needs to explore training, technological solutions and consulting services that make it easier for employees to do their jobs while simultaneously delivering better services to citizens.
This research brief addresses how to bridge the gap between relatively engaged employees and unsatisfied citizens. It also offers tips and solutions to help agencies increase employee engagement levels while driving good customer experiences.
The Disconnect Between Employee and Citizens’ Perception of Service
It’s clear that government employees understand the importance of good customer service and that employee engagement is central to providing high-quality services. Yet, while 55 percent of respondents said they think their department offers a quality customer experience to the citizens that they serve, recent research shows that trust in the government is at an all time low. In fact, the Pew Research Center’s recent survey showed that just 19 percent of Americans trust the federal government all or most of the time. This means there’s a clear disconnect between employee perception of services and citizens’ satisfaction with government services.
Additionally, while the majority of government respondents did feel that they provided quality service, 45 percent said that the experiences they provided were either not good or needed improvement. This means different agencies might be providing different levels of service.
Such inconsistencies and negative customer experiences can be explained through an example in the private sector. What customers define as a good experience is directly related to how an organization looks and acts across customer service channels such as website portals, in-person venues and call lines. When the experience is inconsistent, the consumer’s perception of the company declines, willingness to interact decreases and loyalty takes a nose dive.
The same can be true for government. For example, a citizen who just moved wants to check on the status of her new license plates. She calls one department to check on the status of her registration only to be put on hold for a long time. She is then told she needs to come to the department in person. When she arrives, however, the same person she spoke to on the phone is not available. Another person tries to handle her request without knowledge of her previous contact with the agency, which leads to inconsistent information and an unsatisfied citizen, frustrated with the “incompetence” and “bureaucracy” of government.
Captijn and Thompson attribute the disconnect between perception of good services and the reality of poor services to different individuals and capacities of departments. “Some agencies are simply performing better than others in terms of customer service because they have better training and technology,” Thompson said.
To address the gap in service delivery and bridge the disconnect between government and citizens, more agencies need to adopt better technologies and consistent practices. This will help empower employees so they can deliver better and more consistent services to their citizens.
Download the full research brief here to learn what solutions Genesys offers to improve employee engagement and customer experience.