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The Federal Plan to Improve Customer Experience

Government officials often talk broadly about improving customer experiences, but in December the Biden administration unveiled an executive order (EO) that offers a detailed vision of what that means.

The idea is to hold the federal government accountable for designing and delivering services based on how people actually experience them — not on what government thinks of them. 

“Our Government must recommit to being ‘of the people, by the people, [and] for the people,’” the EO says. “When a disaster survivor, single parent, immigrant, small business owner, or veteran waits months for the Government to process benefits to which they are entitled, this lost time is a significant cost not only for that individual, but in the aggregate, for our Nation as a whole.” 

What the EO does

  • The executive order describes every interaction between the federal government and the public as a chance to save a person’s time and provide the kind of service the public expects, deserves and is entitled to. 
  • The plan commits to improving 36 types of customer experiences (CX) across 17 federal agencies and to promoting agency coordination whenever possible — for instance, between the departments of Treasury and HHS when determining who’s eligible for health insurance subsidies. 
  • It relies on enhanced use of technology, empirical evidence, behavioral science and other mechanisms to craft CX and service delivery that better serve the public. 
  • And the EO instructs agencies to root out the causes of their CX challenges while ensuring that all reforms maintain privacy, civil rights and other protections.

“Customer experience” means the public’s perception of and overall satisfaction with interactions with an agency, product or service.

The EO ties in with the President’s Management Agenda (released in November) that groups the Administration’s policy priorities into three categories:

  • the federal workforce and diversity, equity, inclusion and accessibility (Priority 1)
  • customer experiences (Priority 2)
  • the economy and business of government (Priority 3)

And, the EO also relates to Office of Management & Budget (OMB) guidance — known as OMB Circular A-11 (Part 6, Section 280) — that, among various other items, tells federal agencies how to develop, track and deliver on their CX goals.

Improving how individuals experience the federal government is long overdue, according to many observers, and may be particularly difficult for some agencies. The customer experience EO is designed to show them the way.


Image from Mohamed Hassan from Pixabay

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