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Government Leaders Say CX Must Be Bigger Than the CIO

The push for improved customer experience (CX) in government received a needed boost with the passage of the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA) last December.

The law includes provisions around website modernization, digitizing government services and forms, electronic signatures and specific requirements for federal chief information officers.

CIOs are tasked with coordinating and ensuring alignment of internal and external CX programs and working with the chief financial officer, program managers and other leaders to ensure proper funding to support the implementation of 21st Century IDEA.

Although the law specifically identifies CIOs as the point people for coordinating CX efforts, agency leaders don’t see CX as a responsibility that falls squarely on technology leaders. Speaking at the Adobe Digital Government Symposium 2019, government leaders from the Veterans Affairs and Agriculture departments shared their thoughts on the law and implementation at their agencies.

When asked about 21st Century IDEA, VA’s Barbara Morton said she “would advocate for broader applications of CX outside of just technology.”

“I think the IDEA Act is awesome,” she said, “it’s a great start.” Morton, who serves as Deputy Chief Veterans Experience Officer, said she is excited for the day when governmentwide CX is hardwired into the DNA of government — even outside of technology.

Although the Office of Management and Budget has not yet released specific implementation guidance around 21st Century IDEA, Agriculture Department (USDA) CIO Gary Washington is ensuring that CX is bigger than his office.

“We have a one USDA approach to identify with the customer base and get feedback and digitize,” he said. “A lot in that [law] is about the CIO, but we are going about it as a shared responsibility between the office of communications, the office of customer experience and the office of the CIO.”

Customer experience has been central to USDA’s work under the IT Modernization Centers of Excellence (CoE) initiative. USDA is one of two agencies that is currently pioneering the CoEs concept, which provides a centralized team of technical experts from government and industry who accelerate agencywide IT modernization.

The outcomes of that effort include streamlining and digitizing the farm loan process and using analytics to better understand who is reaching out to USDA call centers, what they need and how the agency is responding. Starting this year, farmers can now view their loans online, and this summer they will be able to pay online, Washington said.

Although technology is a key enabler of better CX and CIOs often lead the charge of tech adoption, CX must be viewed holistically across channels, offices and locations.

“Everyone in an organization is responsible for CX,” a senior administration official told GovLoop. “CIOs are a critical strategic partner in the federal effort to raise our customer experience maturity. Technology helps make many of our improvements happen, but CX is more than the service delivery mechanism.”

To read more about the CX landscape across federal, state and local governments, check out GovLoop’s latest guide, “Government’s Customer Experience Playbook.” In it you’ll find best practices, practical applications of CX and a self-assessment tool to gauge your agency’s progress. Download the report here.

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Avatar photo Blake Martin

I completely agree! CX is a part of every single customer interaction, from browsing the website to speaking directly with an agency call center. Beyond technology, CIOs and other leaders are crucial to adopting this mentality and pushing to embed CX into the agency’s culture itself.