Why President Biden's customer experience executive order presents an unprecedented opportunity to transform government services.
The federal government's focus on improving customer experience is not new—nearly every administration has been mindful of this critical area. That said, President Joe Biden's Executive Order on Improving Government Customer Experience and Service Delivery for the American People, issued in December 2021, presents a different and unique opportunity to fully transform the way the federal government carries out its mission. The convergence of technology, culture and people today offers opportunities that have not been possible before.
At its core, the executive order's goals are simple: leverage people, culture, process and technology to improve the way the U.S. government delivers services. When it comes to CX, the government has consistently struggled, ranking at or near the bottom in a variety of U.S. customer satisfaction indices for many years. The executive order aims to reverse these trends by putting people at the center of everything the government does. It goes beyond vision to also make 36 specific CX commitments across 17 different federal agencies—all with a shared goal of improved service delivery.
The CX order envisions an interconnected federal government, where citizens log on once and get access to all of the information relevant to their needs. Imagine a single web-based entry point or a "federal front door," where you are greeted by a "concierge" who guides you from place to place, based on your specific situation and needs. In one place, you can see the status of your passport application or small business loan, check your social security income, and get the real-time status of your tax return. No more logging in and out of multiple agency websites, digging through countless confusing pages to find the right place, and providing the same information over and over to request help. Through cross-agency collaboration and data interoperability, our government services will finally be designed for the real "life events" people experience—instead of for the organizational requirements of individual agencies.
Fully realizing the executive order's vision will take investments in technology, including modern, intuitive websites, digital forms, mobile and broadband access and better data, analytics and feedback. It will take investments in people who will drive culture change across agencies. And it will take a commitment from federal leadership to develop a sustainable, customer-first culture. The CX executive order is the start of the federal government's own customer experience journey.
The experience Qualtrics has providing experience management solutions to government organizations around the world has shown us there are four critical factors the federal government must take into account to ensure the CX executive order achieves its transformative goals:
It's about the people – To deliver world-class customer experience the federal government must commit to better understanding what its customers want. This means making it easier to solicit, receive, analyze, and make changes based on feedback from citizen interactions.
It's about technology – The tools available to federal agencies today have capabilities far beyond what we could have imagined as recently as five years ago. The federal government must modernize the information technology tools it uses to support the delivery of customer service for mission enhancement, investing wisely in proven, secure commercial solutions.
It's about continuous improvement – You cannot improve what you cannot measure. It's critical to understand where you are from the perspective of your employees and customers and then analyze the results of changes made. This cannot be a once a quarter endeavor. It must be constant. Make sure the platforms you use enable continuous progress.
It's about federal employees – You cannot transform the way the federal government delivers services without the buy-in of the employees charged with delivering it. The "employee experience"—recruiting, developing, rewarding and ultimately retaining—must be top-of-mind.
Lastly, as we think about all of these things, we must remember that truly transforming government customer experience takes time and commitment. This is a journey, not a destination. Federal agency leadership must drive the cultural changes necessary to make the vision of the CX executive order a reality.
Jill Leyden is a government industry advisor at Qualtrics.