How the VA Gained Veterans’ Trust

When the Veteran’s Experience Office (VEO) was established in 2015, the goal was to listen to veterans’ voices. The office strategically deployed core CX capabilities to listen through data, tools, technology and engagement.

For instance, the office captured real-time, experience-based data of veteran outpatient services through the Veterans Signals Survey. It also equipped over 100,000 staff members with CX training to deliver responsive care, and redesigned VA.gov for an easier, user-centered web experience. It even established a newsletter and virtual events to engage with the veteran community nationwide.

With these capabilities, trust steadily rose. And despite the pandemic, veteran trust exceeded 90% for the first time in April 2020, according to survey data that tracks overall trust in outpatient services at the VA. One of the times that it’s challengingto provide positive CX, however, is when employees have to deliver bad news to customers.

What the VA learned was that providing good customer experience was not defined by pleasing customers. It was about making them feel heard, cared for and supported.

“Digital modernization efforts improve both trust and satisfaction.” — Performance.gov Lessons From FY2020

One veteran, for example, was frustrated by the VA appeals process. The employee he contacted researched his case and called him weekly to provide updates. Even though the circumstances were frustrating, because the employee continued respectful contact with him throughout the process, the veteran articulated that he felt cared for and supported.

It is not always good news or desirable outcomes that characterize a good customer experience — it is also good interactions and the feeling that customers can trust the service provider.

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, “Humanizing Mission Delivery to Build Trust.” Download the full report here.

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