As consumers, the customer experience (CX) can make or break our view of an organization. Citizens want to engage and access services at a time that is convenient for them and in a manner that fits their individual needs. Service expectations are increasingly growing and agencies must leverage new technologies to meet this demand.
In a recent analysis, GovLoop surveyed nearly 150 government employees to gather information on how technology can help federal agencies improve the customer experience. To discuss the results of the survey, GovLoop brought together experts from around the customer experience field in the online training, A Digital Revolution in Government Customer Experience.
Mariela Melero, Associate Director of Customer Service and Public Engagement at USCIS; Victor Janey, Program Manager, Census Questionnaire Assistance at General Dynamics IT; Jessica Barret-Simpson, Senior Advisor at the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid; and Megan Eunpu, Federal Account Executive at Genesys kicked off the discussion by discussing where CX is right now in government.
While CX in government draws some parallels to the private sector, delivering an excellent customer experience to citizens has unique challenges. “For us, the main challenge is to deliver a quality customer experience to the customers we are serving in the way that they deserve and that is 100 percent aligned with our mission,” Melero explained. In order to do this, agencies have to shift from providing a one-off customer interaction to an entire customer experience.
However, making this shift can be difficult without the proper technology. “One of the bigger challenges we are facing right now is keeping pace with citizens’ evolving expectations of technology,” Janey said. “The ultimate goal for CX in government is building public trust in government services. Leveraging technology to build an omnichannel solution that addresses that to the highest degree possible is critical.”
An omnichannel approach means that governments are providing services through multiple channels in order for all customers to have access to them. Whether it is email, a call center, website, text, chat service or social media, agencies should have multiple channels that citizens can use to get in touch. “Leveraging different technologies is critical to providing a good customer experience, but you have to find the right ones for your agency,” Eunpu explained. “A lot of it is taking a step back and looking at who your customers are and looking at what you are trying to achieve and deciding what technologies will work best for you.”
For example, as an employee of the Office of Federal Student Aid, Barrett-Simpson has a unique relationship with her agency’s customers. “Unlike some other agencies, we have a very long term relationship with our customers because people are taking a longer time to pay back student loans right now,” she explained. As a result, they are using technology to upgrade their communications platforms and are specifically interested in combining all of their customer facing websites into a one-stop shop.
Looking forward, it’s important to continue striving for effective and efficient CX. Eunpu concluded, “At the end of the day, you need to look at the mission of your agency and what your customers need and find the area where you can have the biggest impact. From there you can add more channels and update technology to continue making the customer experience better.”