Digital Customer Experience: 3 Tips for Making Real Change in the Federal Government


Federal organizations can benefit from a digital approach that seeks to understand user needs, engages them and maintains usability and performance.

Tim Young is a principal at Deloitte Digital, Deloitte Consulting LLP.

From the departments of Human and Health Services to Homeland Security, agencies across the federal government are using increasingly sophisticated systems to collect, manage and analyze data relevant to their missions and speed delivery of services to citizens. So why does the American public still give the government poor grades for customer service?

When people think of quality customer service, the government isn’t the first answer that comes to their minds. Even though improvements in data management across the board have become widely adopted, the idea of poor government customer service isn’t changing.

According the American Customer Satisfaction Index, rankings for government customer service dropped six points for 2013 to 2014 and a Gallup poll has ranked the government as the most important problem facing the U.S. four months in a row in 2015.

Part of the reason for the public perception may come from the digital experience. Federal organizations can benefit from a digital approach that seeks to understand user needs, engages them and maintains usability and performance.

Know Your User

It isn’t enough knowing users want to use technology; the insight comes from who the users are and how they use technology.

How old is the user base? Are users inclined to use mobile technology? Are they comfortable accessing information digitally? Do they have the time and patience to complete information in one setting, or do they interact on the fly? Personality traits and environment influence behavior and design, and these are questions that have to be answered.  

By understanding who the customer is, and how they interact in a digital space, you can create a journey map to plot out how users experience your offering from beginning to end and customize it to best suit their needs.

User Input Along the Way Goes a Long Way

When trying to make sure an app is working the way it should for users, it’s best to consult the users. Just interviewing them at the beginning and end is a less than ideal process. Rather, weaving the user input into the entire process allows them to give feedback and suggestions that help guarantee that the app is working and feeling the way it should.

Updates from the Customer Keep You in Touch.

Just as consulting with the user base ensures an app is being developed as it should, getting updates from your customers helps to keep your business on track. Anyone who uses a computer or smartphone is used to constant updates and this is a prime opportunity to reach out and solicit feedback on changes and test features to be implemented.

Not only will this improve the overall project, but it also allows you gauge the satisfaction of customers. Continual feedback through both formal and informal ways can provide insight into what the customer prefers, what frustrates them, and what they’d like to see change.

Priorities and leadership are fluid in the federal government, but innovation will always be wanted. Enhancing the digital experience is an opportunity to push forward in a way that is effective and inexpensive. It may be awhile before doing business with federal agencies is as easy as using on-demand apps to access ride sharing services or order movie tickets, but the transition is underway and IT organizations have a major role in leading the way.

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