In the private sector, the customers’ experiences affect a company’s bottom line. If airline A isn’t accommodating to an individual’s needs, they’ll swap to airline B. When one cell phone carrier’s customer service line proves to be unhelpful, a customer has many other options to choose from.
In government, the importance of providing a meaningful citizen experience (CX) isn’t quite so clearly defined. There are no other organizations providing the same services as government agencies, and there isn’t the same competition for business.
So, why should public sector employees be concerned with providing positive CX?
To explain why public sector CX matters and what agencies can do to improve it, GovLoop hosted Allen Hill, Office of Telecommunications Director at the General Services Administration, and Sean Applegate, Chief Technology Officer at the data infrastructure provider SwishData during Thursday’s online training, “The Impact of User Experience on Government Agencies and Citizens.”
“We often lose perspective of why performance matters,” Applegate said. “The [citizen experience] is really what drives the engine of America.”
Applegate went on to explain that good CX is actually critical to the mission of the government. In the public sector, employees are called on to serve citizen needs and making the interactions between the government and its constituents meaningful is at the very core of those responsibilities.
But the responsibly to provide a good experience isn’t only on the government.
“Our customer engagement is bidirectional,” Hill said. “We want to make sure that we have feedback going both ways.”
Prioritizing CX opens pathways for communication as the government makes changes, especially when it takes on new technological initiatives. Updating IT systems can save government resources and help agencies work better, but without a channel for citizen feedback it could have the opposite effect.
“Certain technology that does not allow a good experience costs…time and money,” Hill explained.
Hill added that this can be prevented if citizen feedback is incorporated into the transition early on. He said that the public sector must plan deliberately before rolling out new technologies by first talking to impacted citizens in order to foster successful implementation.
In their daily lives, citizens have the power of the purse to decide how they’d like the private sector to treat them. But the government’s monopoly on certain public services should not stop public sector employees from providing meaningful CX. Instead, it’s in the core mission and best interests of the public sector to put citizens’ needs first in every aspect of providing services.