GSA Develops Human-Centered Design Buying Guide for Agencies


The buying guide assistance to federal agencies looking to improve their customer experience operations.

The General Services Administration wants the federal government to get into a customer-first mindset, and to help the agency released a customer experience roadmap document explain to federal agencies how to do it.

The Evaluation and Buying Guide provides federal agencies an overview of customer experience, tips for framing customer experience efforts, principles for evaluating industry partners, acquisition help and additional resources. It also offers a three-phase approach to transforming an agency priority into a measurable customer experience initiative.

“Agencies are making significant progress in building customer-centric services," said GSA’s acting Chief Customer Officer Matt Ford in a statement. "GSA developed this guide based on the needs agencies have expressed in structuring contracts and identifying the best industry partners to help accelerate their service transformations."

The guide leads with four basic tenets: focus on a persistent customer need; start with an inspiring vision for changes; identify your needs and ask for help and share your research in the open.

From there, the guide explains how agencies should execute the aforementioned tenets in a three-phase approach.

In addition, the guide provides nuanced details regarding how agencies should select industry firms to work with. The guide outlines five customer experience principles agencies should ensure potential industry partners can properly address: start with empathy for the customer; use human-centered design practices to understand customer journeys and needs; involve customers in service design improvements; create, test and refine ideas and solutions and measure efforts against outcomes that point to tangible improvements in customer experience.

The guide also lists red flags for agencies. For example, agencies should avoid working with firms that lack specificity or have weak case studies.

Finally, the guide provides specificity regarding how agencies should acquire customer experience services and technologies and appropriate methods for engaging vendors. The guide also includes responses to a recent request for information—more than 100 customer experience vendors answered—that includes numerous existing contract vehicles through which agencies could procure services.