How to Combat the Lack of Clear and Consistent Metrics

Agencies are under increasing internal and external pressures to provide secure services to users when and how they need them. Requirements set by the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA) define a roadmap for federal website modernization and digitization of government forms and encourage acceleration of electronic signatures. With electronic signatures, users can quickly — and digitally — sign forms with a click, tap or swipe.

But the journey to this modern state will require agencies to address a lack of clear, consistent and measurable metrics to determine the quality of their digital services. Inconsistent key performance indicators (KPIs) are the first obstacle agencies must overcome to gauge and improve their customer experience (CX). Irregularity makes it difficult for stakeholders across an organization to understand how an application is performing, how it’s being used and how to provide better experiences.

“There is uneven visibility into the process and technology elements that underpin the KPIs and thereby the means to improve CX,” said Andy Wetzel, Senior Director of Digital Strategy at New Relic.

When these linkages are not visible, agencies can spend valuable time and money using slow, imprecise polls and surveys. Surveys are incapable of providing the kind of real-time visibility into systems to see how the customer is actually using the service. They do not connect user experience to service and system performance, nor do they provide the deterministic data required to drive improvements.

The lack of telemetry data and visibility in turn discourages collaboration across teams and agencies, which need to work together to establish and achieve consistent CX goals.

Specific to government, changes driven by legislation such as the 21st Century IDEA require agencies to be responsive to customer needs and scale their applications securely and swiftly.

“In this digital era, agencies are increasingly moving more of their applications to citizen-facing web programs,” said Bob Withers, Senior Director for Public Sector at New Relic. “They’re driven a lot by legislation that can happen overnight, where it changes the whole design of the system.”

To best prepare for and comply with legislation, the ability to scale accordingly, observe what is happening in applications and then provide insight to stakeholders is paramount.

The Solution: Real-Time Visibility and Actionable Data

Agencies can achieve breakthroughs in customer satisfaction by tracking three key application functions: availability, functionality and speed of their services. Tracking consistent KPIs enables agencies to effectively measure performance and ultimately deliver the best customer experience possible.

“Consistency in and of itself will go a long way to allowing you to improve CX,” Wetzel said.

By measuring KPIs, you have a way to benchmark one agency or agency site against others, moving from amorphous assessments like “good enough” or “getting there” to more concrete comparisons and goals.

The first step is tracking service availability, because you can’t provide great customer experience if your site is down. Once you’ve established service availability, tracking application or web functionality is the next step. You can do this by measuring error rates and validating key user actions to ensure that any customer-impacting issues — including front-end, back-end and infrastructure matters — are indicated and addressed.

Lastly, ensuring speed is what will guarantee a modern digital experience, and agencies can do so by assessing front-end load times to eliminate and alleviate undesirable bottlenecks in services for their users.

“It’s so transformative what happens once you just start measuring a few KPIs,” Wetzel said. “The measurement becomes both your goal and the vehicle by which you can assess any corrective or optimization actions.”

This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s recent report, “A Metrics-Driven Approach to Customer Experience.” Download the full report here.

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