Customer Experience

5 predictions for government experience management in 2021

2021 promises to be a “takeoff year” for experience management (XM) in government. The events of the past 12 months have made obvious, sometimes painfully, the critical role people’s experience with government plays in preserving public health and stabilizing economic and social life. Many people were thrilled to put 2020 behind them – but the dawn of 2021 gives us a major opportunity to use key lessons learned from the COVID-19 response to inform the acceleration of experience management across all government operations.  Here are five predictions for government XM in 2021.

Prediction 1:  Experience management will become the new operating system for government

Disruptive events like COVID make historical trend data only partially useful; in addition, leaders need to understand real time what is happening to stakeholders in order to respond effectively. Bringing experience (X) and operations (O) data together to drive a complete system of action – that is the future of government program delivery.

Early in 2020 as the pandemic emerged, we worked in record time with local and state governments as well as schools across the country to deploy digital solutions that monitor the pandemic’s impact on communities and individuals and keep stakeholders informed and engaged. Based on X data, we designed and deployed call center operations, automated risk assessments, and created test scheduling and contact tracing solutions – showing the power of workflow transformation built into the Qualtrics platform.

In 2021, we expect more government organizations to adopt technology-based systems of action that integrate X and O data to create resilient programs and services. Qualtrics’ system of action helps governments apply the agility we learned in this crisis to all business operations.

Prediction 2:  Public sentiment will become a mission critical data set for all government agencies

The commercial sector has long understood the power of sentiment data for delivering outcomes. An October 2019 study by Forrester found that companies applying Qualtrics’ XM solutions achieved a 633% ROI, with a pay-back period of only 3 months. Why? Because sentiment analysis uncovers what customers and employees actually want, so leaders can design for actual needs as they emerge. And for existing business processes, the ability to map customer journeys to identify and address pain points has proven pivotal for creating the new standard of customer responsiveness we now take for granted in our commercial transactions.

In April 2020, we helped Census put in place – in a matter of weeks – two new surveys to help policy makers understand how the pandemic was impacting households and businesses. Dashboard visualization makes data immediately actionable for agencies like the Department of Health and Human Services, the Department of Commerce, and Congress – so they can quickly shape policy decisions and prioritize action around pressing public concerns.

In 2021 and beyond, we see sentiment as a critical ingredient to successful mission accomplishment. Whether it’s heat maps on vaccine sentiment that help target outreach, or enabling cities like Orlando to pivot to online service delivery, Qualtrics XM Solutions are empowering governments across the country to address one of the most challenging periods in recent memory.

Prediction 3:  Employee engagement will become embedded in government operations

In 2020 we saw how important the employee experience is for continuity of operations in government. Social distancing requirements led governments to send the workforce home – while still ensuring uninterrupted operations and service delivery during an acute crisis. In a fully distributed work environment, leaders and managers were challenged to enable and support employees without being able to engage with them in person. Qualtrics helped organizational leaders like GSA stay connected with their people through listening technology that allowed employees to say whatever was on their minds, and translating that open text data into actionable information. GSA harnessed the power of AI and natural language processing to quickly respond in real time to what their employees needed to stay focused, productive and engaged.

2021 gives governments new opportunities to embed employee sentiment into their continuous improvement of service design and delivery – making organizations truly agile in the face of fast moving events.

Prediction 4: Technology transformation will be designed and deployed through the XM lens

2020 placed more pressure on government organizations to digitize their entire operational infrastructure in order to sustain operations. And governments recognized that the experience citizens and employees have with technology matters critically for effective mission outcomes. Qualtrics helped organizations like the Air Force to gather and analyze qualitative data on interactions with technology, and implement closed loop workflows in response to customer feedback. People providing input saw their voice was heard, and decision makers were able to create a system of continuous improvement from day one of their technology transformation.

In 2021, we expect technology investments to adopt the XM approach to gathering input for requirements, designing and testing prototypes with users, and embedding effective change management into all phases of deployment. New solutions will roll out faster and produce better experiences with the power of XM.

Prediction 5: Leaders will focus on XM – because trust matters

If 2020 taught us anything, it’s the critical role that trust plays in achieving government outcomes. Our 2020 global research on the ROI of Customer Experience found that people perceive their experience with an organization across three dimensions: success (whether they can accomplish their goal), effort (how easy or difficult is it to accomplish their goal), and emotion (how the experience makes them feel). Customers who give organizations higher success, effort, and emotion ratings are at least 3.5x more likely to trust an organization compared to customers who give them a low rating.

We see 2021 as a potential turning point when government trust can be reinforced through outstanding experience management. It will take the courage to listen to what stakeholders are saying about government services, the ability to respond quickly with tangible action, and a new orientation that keeps customer outcomes at the center of governments’ processes. Qualtrics is excited to embark on this journey with our government partners in 2021.


Learn more about our Experience Management solutions for government in action

Sydney Heimbrock // PhD

Dr. Sydney Heimbrock works at the nexus of customer experience, human capital and process improvement to drive organizational transformation in government. Prior to joining Qualtrics, she helped Deloitte build Human Centered Design capabilities into its human capital and customer strategy offerings for Federal, state and local governments. As founding Executive Director of the Innovation Lab at OPM, she was an early leader in the Experience Management movement in government. She has served as the Federal government’s Chief Learning Officer, led government-wide Strategic Human Capital Management initiatives under the President’s Management Agenda, and helped developing countries build democratic institutions that provide social safety nets and fuel labor market growth. Her professional expertise includes measurement and evaluation, human centered design and design education, leading and managing creative teams, strategic foresight and workforce planning, continuous process improvement, strategic human capital management, leadership and workforce development, and public policy analysis.

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