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Government Needs a New Citizen Experience Measurement Mindset Grounded in Empathy

It’s not news that the government ranks behind the private sector in the satisfaction it’s able to deliver to its citizens. In fact, new research out Thursday on government citizen experience (or CX) from Forrester shows that federal CX remains weak and uneven.

“A sobering 80% of federal agencies had scores that fell into the lowest two categories of the CX Index,” the report reads.

Government has been aware of its issues in CX for years now, and has tried different attempts to improve, including installing Chief Customer Officers at select agencies; training employees on the principles of human-centered user designers; and deploying journey maps.

Some efforts have been successful. But the truth is, government will have to continue to do a lot more to truly get great at CX. At Forrester’s CX DC event on Thursday, which focused on stories from improving the citizen experience across government, Maxie Schmidt, Principal Analyst, Forrester, said that CX trends are already moving into a new area and focus – and government will have to play catch up.

The good news is that Schmidt offered concrete advice and the trends government needs to focus to help agencies learn how they can future-proof their CX programs by modernizing surveys, tapping into new sources of CX measurement data, and upgrading to action-oriented CX analytics.

According to Schmidt, CX programs need to move into a mindset that is grounded in empathy. Schmidt asked the audience to think about the current state of citizen experience measurement. To try to understand what citizens think of their interactions with agencies, much like the private sector, government relies on methods of interruption or what she referred to as “interrogation” – surveys, pop ups, mailings, phone calls. Inherently by design, these efforts to collect data and feedback can end up “bothering” citizens or interrupting their experiences.

“We have overbalanced for factors like automation, score, and control” in our efforts to get more CX data, she said. Automation means we simply try to get more feedback. A focus on the scores we receive in data and then trying to use those scores to try to get citizens what we wish they would do is also over-focused on, she explained.

“Simply put, we can’t expect customers to take surveys anymore,” Schmidt said. “Additionally, we’re missing data on other platforms that’s important to the citizen experience by focusing so much on survey results.

“CX programs are not robust enough today,” Schmidt continued. “We need a new CX measurement mindset. We need to focus more on listening, behavior, and then enabling users to do what they want to do instead of trying to control them.”

Relinquishing control in CX measurement programs is the way forward, she said, as well as focusing on empathy and collecting CX measurement data as customers go on their journey in non-intrusive ways.

Schmidt offered three tips for government to move to this new CX measurement mindset:

  1. Rethink surveys so they evolve to conversations: We need to move from ‘interrogation’ style surveys to a true open conversation, Schmidt said. Governments should try moving from web surveys to feedback collected by chatbots or feedback that involves more multimedia elements. One other option is using microsurveys in citizen interaction flows. Microsurveys are very short (1-5 questions or so) surveys that take place on the page the citizen is interacting with, as they are interacting. This enables real-time feedback and does not interrupt what the citizen is trying to accomplish.
  2. Get more insights from new data: Schmidt said that since more and more organization are using chatbots to interact with customer and citizens, they must now start mining data from those chat interactions and chat transcripts. By using AI or machine learning analysis, these chat transcripts can offer a deep insight into citizen experience and satisfaction without making citizens take a separate survey.
  3. Upgrade to action-oriented analytics: Agencies should be doing much more with the analytics they have on hand to move the needle on the citizen experience. In fact, based on the data they are likely to have, agencies could potentially already predict CX scores, and identify drivers of CX. That is, based on a variety of factors, they can make a solid guess about HOW a customer WOULD HAVE rated the interaction without actually requiring the customer to do that. Secondly, agencies should be using data and feedback to augment employees in real time – that is, enable them with real-time nudges from software to improve the CX they are offering the citizen in the moment, such as real-time prompts that help employees improve the conversation. Schmidt said that in research focusing on real-time engagement prompts, employees felt empowered by these nudges and overall, employee engagement went up.

Government knows they have a long way to go in making up the gap of satisfaction in the citizen experience. But by adapting an empathetic mindset when it comes to conducting and measuring citizen interactions, they can get themselves on the right path.

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