Customer Experience: Mandate to Momentum
Leveraging federal requirements to advance CX maturity
The Presidential Executive Order on customer experience is a major milestone in the movement to bring the power of experience management to focus government policies, programs, and services on the people they are designed to help. Savvy CX professionals have eagerly awaited the EO to assess how it can help them advance CX maturity in their agency and beyond. The EO’s mandates can serve as an accelerator to the momentum that has been steadily building.
CX professionals in the federal government have been true pioneers, cutting new paths and shifting their organizations toward customer-centricity. Civil servants working in the CX space have mastered the art of getting scrappy for a quick win, using case studies to showcase the value of customer focus, and enabling leaders to make data-informed decisions.
As individual government agencies align around the EO’s requirements, other important cards have fallen into place:
- The President’s Management Agenda names customer experience as one of its three priorities — and employee experience as another
- More Departments have made CX a priority, building CX goals into their strategic plans
- Legislation, such as the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA), has brought attention to customer experience management with additional mandates to speed digital experience improvements
And for several years, the Office of Management and Budget has worked in parallel with agencies to bolster CX efforts across the government with updated definitions, guidance, and mandates outlined in Circular A-11, Section 280 - Managing Customer Experience and Improving Service Delivery.
For years, CX professionals in government have known that the next frontier will be examining CX through a wider lens.
For some life events like starting a business, transitioning from the military, or accessing social services, a person will interact separately with more than one federal agency or department. However, customers do not experience a life event in segments that neatly fit into separate government agency silos.
Circular A-11, Section 280 defines these moments as Priority Life Experiences, which “require members of the public to navigate a service (or services) across the boundaries of multiple Federal programs, agencies and/or levels of government.” It calls upon agencies to take a human-centered approach to managing customer experience and improving service delivery.
Federal agencies must do more than take a “soda straw” view at an individual touchpoint the organization operates. To truly become human-centered, an organization must “see” through the eyes of someone experiencing a need, and recognize how much is in the picture.
As the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) and the CX community think critically about cross-agency Priority Life Experiences and executing the EO, now is the time to advance CX maturity to help close experience disparities across the government.
Here’s how to gain momentum as your organization responds to mandates and how to take intentional steps toward the future of customer-centric, cross-agency collaboration.
1. Listen to “see” experience beyond organizational boundaries
Think beyond touchpoints to shift mindsets from “providing programs/services” to creating an experience of trust between an individual and the federal government.
2. Identify experience gaps
Look for experience gaps that don’t reside solely within your organization’s web pages, systems, or call centers. If you are developing customer journey maps, ask yourself:
- Where does this customer journey start? Hint: not on your agency’s website homepage. Though that “digital front door” garners plenty of attention, customers are likely beginning their experience elsewhere. Think about social media interaction and internet search engine results, what information are customers first seeing?
- How does it go? Do common internet searches lead customers to the right place? Is the customer’s experience fractured from the start, or is there a clear path to help customers navigate across organizational boundaries for a smooth experience? Once on the homepage, is information easy to find, understand, and use?
- What does the customer know? What channels are you using to communicate with customers? Is this communication effective, or does it cause customer mistakes and frustration? What communication is coming from other organizations that impact a customer’s journey with yours?
3. Make sure you can listen where you need to, regardless of silos
The information environment, organizational structure, and IT infrastructure can make gathering customer insights complex. Use a CX platform that can capture and analyze all of your experience data from customers and employees, no matter where it comes from.
Understand to empathize with customers throughout an experience, not just at a point of service.
4. Expand on what it means to make data-driven decisions
Give customers a seat at the table. Integrate both experience data and operational data to create customer-inclusive data.
- Experience data is data that is collected from stakeholders to understand experiences from a human perspective. It's the data of how people think, feel, and behave. Experience data is most commonly collected through surveys but can also come from other sources, such as insights gleaned from analyzing recorded speech, analyzing the text of contact center interactions, the sentiment expressed in social media, and online posts.
- Operational data is collected in the normal course of business. Organizations usually collect a lot of operational data that can tell you about what happened, but it can illustrate only that.
Using customer-inclusive data, government agencies learn why specific activities are happening and uncover insights on what stakeholders thought, felt, and expected. They identify and close experience gaps while building trust. Most importantly, government agencies can see their customers with greater clarity and serve them with greater equity.
Imagine the collective understanding CX professionals and government leaders gain when both experience and operational data from the agencies whose services comprise a Priority Life Experience is leveraged to uncover insights and scale actions.
5. Assess the tools you are using
When asked to pinpoint what skills make for a good CX professional, many themselves humorously describe that a human Swiss Army knife is needed to get the job done. But, that’s not what we mean here.
Ensure the building blocks you are stacking today do not become the barriers of tomorrow
Do you have a CX platform that enables human-centered design at scale? Are all of your results and visualizations in one place? Is it clear where to focus based on the results you see? If not, move from using a survey tool to leveraging an experience management platform.
Use the Qualtrics XM Platform as a springboard for your CX progress. With a powerful experience management platform, you can use the customer-inclusive data you’ve obtained to take decisive action in the right areas. Build effective, role-based dashboards that visualize your CX data and inspire stakeholders to take action. Since Qualtrics is the ultimate platform for collecting, understanding, and taking action on all forms of experience data across organizations, you won’t outgrow it.
6. Act on meaningful CX insights
Listen, understand, and act to reach out and close experience gaps the right way. Take appropriate steps based on your CX capacity and maturity.
- In the early phases of CX maturity, focus on cross-silo progress within your business unit
- Use the valuable lessons you learned and relationships you built from that to tackle cross-department experience management challenges
- As your understanding of customer journeys, personas, and intersections with other agencies widens, think about cross-agency collaboration. Build a coalition of willing staff members inside and outside your organization and establish a shared vision to which you can aim.
7. Talk to agency leadership about using cross-agency collaboration to close shared customer experience gaps
Showing the benefits to business operations and federal mandate requirements can help frame the significance of cross-agency collaboration.
With the right approach and platform, agencies can leverage mandates to accelerate their CX capacity and maturity with an eye for customer-centric, cross-agency collaboration.
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