As the private sector transforms how they deliver products to their customers, government is often left in their dust wondering how to deliver a similarly compelling experience. However, it doesn’t have to be this way. In order to deliver a great customer experience, government must incorporate a customer-centric approach as a part of digital transformation.
In order to better understand the nexus of digital transformation and customer engagement, GovLoop and Adobe brought together experts from across the public sector to discuss how you can most effective engage customers at your agency during the, How to Deliver a Great Customer Experience in Government Roundtable. Lisa Wolfisch, Deputy Director at the Center for New Media & Promotion at the U.S. Census Bureau; Zach Whitman, Chief Data Officer at the U.S. Census Bureau; Brian Paget, Technical Director, Public Sector at Adobe; and Jeffrey Levy, Chief of E-Communications at the U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services led the discussion where three trends became clear:
Know your customers. The experts all agreed that it is tough to deliver great customer experience in government without first understanding who you are serving. In order to do so, Wolfisch emphasized, “the first thing agencies have to know is who their customers are so they can identify all the key touch points for those users.” For example, Census’s customers include citizens, governments, private partners, employees, and data users. Wolfisch underscored that these groups influence each other and overlap so agencies must identify where these overlaps are to foster a holistic user experience.
Once you know your customers, you can more effectively predict what they need from your agency. “We can do some really interesting things with predictive analytics,” Paget said. “The data is out there and can be used in a predictive fashion to help enhance the user experience.” Giving customers what they want in less clicks is key to enhancing their experience with your agency’s website.
However, agencies not only have to be aware of what their customers want, but also how they want it. Paget explained, “the customer experience is becoming an accessibility issue as about 33 percent of Americans only have access to the internet on their cell phones. As a result, if an agency isn’t going mobile, they are shutting out a huge portion of customers.” Wolfisch added that agencies need to identify what services make the most sense to cater to mobile by looking at what customers’ mobile behaviors.
Know your capabilities. While many agencies are starting to develop digital capabilities akin to the private sector, many haven’t even scratched the surface. “People are unaware of the breadth and capabilities that data can provide, it is so rich in content that one of our biggest challenges is trying to help other agencies understand what data are available,” Whitman underscored. By using data to explore what customers want, agencies are able identify what engagement practices they are doing right and what they can improve upon.
Additionally, agencies can use their customers to directly identify gaps in their capabilities. Paget explained that most of the time organizations don’t know what the users want to see on the website and it is normally the CEO of the company or department leadership who decides what to incorporate. However, by using analytics, personalization and feedback forms, end users can begin to drive content in a way that caters to them.
By ingesting user feedback and using analytic capabilities, agencies can begin to take a holistic approach to guide the customer experience. Touch points can include social media, call centers, email, and sensory analysis that give a holistic ide about what people are using data for and why they are going to an agencies site. “Essentially, use the digital experience to enhance the full customer experience,” Wolfisch emphasized.
Know how to fill the gaps. Once an agency knows what their capabilities are and where they have some gaps, they can begin to fill those holes. But it can be difficult to know what to fix and when. Analytics are one way to help agencies understand what customers are doing and why and how they are going to a website.
“Making websites work across multiple devices, optimizing transactions and information delivery, and increasing personalization cues are all expected in the commercial world but they are not seen as much in government,” Paget explained. By focusing on filling these gaps in government customer service, agencies can significantly increase customer satisfaction.
Despite these tips, it is very easy to get overwhelmed but the experts stressed that the entire discussion can boil down to very simple concepts. Levy explained, “customer service comes down to listening and making changes. If you set up and email platform to solicit feedback from customers, actually make the changes people are asking for. Doing this provides a great customer experience.” If you hear what your customers are saying, you can much more easily serve them in the way they want and need to be served.