Improve Your Agency's Customer Experience in 8 Steps

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ACT-IAC unveiled a playbook for overhauling citizen-facing services.

With the White House and Congress pushing agencies to bring citizen services into the 21st century, a government tech trade group released a step-by-step guide for approaching customer experience renovations at your organization.

The American Council for Technology and Industry Advisory Council on Monday published the Customer Experience Playbook, which outlines an eight-part strategy for designing and executing overhauls of agencies’ citizen-facing services. The guide focuses not so much on the technical aspects of human-centered design but rather addresses the cultural and organizational hurdles agencies must overcome when undertaking those efforts.

“Improving the citizens’ experience with government cannot be done with technology alone; it also requires people, process improvements, and culture change,” ACT-IAC wrote in the playbook. “Improving the public’s perception of government service is complex and will require that customer experience become a priority and focus within federal agencies.”

Historically, the government has struggled to build a user-friendly online presence. Last year, federal agencies tied for last place in a Forrester study ranking 21 industries on customer experience, and the American Customer Satisfaction Index found only about 70 percent of people are satisfied with their interactions with government—and that’s its highest rating in 11 years.

Agencies face a number of unique obstacles to reforming customer experience, including organizational silos, staffing challenges and outdated IT systems, but overcoming these challenges could have an “immeasurable” impact on citizens’ lives, the playbook said. It offers eight “plays” to guide those efforts:

  1. Understand the current state of customer satisfaction and experience in your agency.
  2. Understand your agency’s culture and appetite for change.
  3. Build a customer-centric culture.
  4. Create a customer strategy.
  5. Design the experience of the future.
  6. Identify the support and resources (e.g., staff, technology, funding) needed.
  7. Develop a business case to justify resources.
  8. Continually measure and monitor.

ACT-IAC noted agencies don’t need to follow the steps in order, as long as they’re completed at some point in the process.

In recent months, Congress and the White House have begun making a significant push to build a more user-friendly government. The Connected Government Act, which became law in January, requires agencies to redesign websites to be mobile-friendly within 180 days, and the White House is working to establish a center to help agencies adopt better customer service practices.

Some agencies are also taking proactive steps to improve the way they engage with citizens. The Veterans Affairs Department is in the process of consolidating websites to make them more easy to navigate, and the Agriculture Department set customer experience as one of the five pillars of its Centers of Excellence initiative.

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