White House Lays Groundwork for Improving Government Customer Experience

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The Office of Management and Budget’s new Circular A-11 provides guidance to federal agencies in establishing customer experience frameworks.

For years, the federal government has routinely provided the worst customer experience of any industry, but the Trump administration is beginning to formulate a plan for agencies to improve the way it delivers services to citizens.

The Office of Management and Budget introduced a new section to its A-11 guidance on June 29 that directs agencies to establish customer experience frameworks and providers instructions for managing customer experience improvement efforts.

The guidance applies to more than a dozen high-impact agencies, including the departments of Veterans Affairs, Agriculture, Commerce, Treasury and State, and calls for official reporting on customer experience efforts from those agencies to OMB beginning in the first quarter of fiscal 2019.

“This new section aligns with the President’s Management Agenda. It is the first step toward a broad federal CX improvement and lays the groundwork to create common structure, elements, and measurable improvements in customer satisfaction by using the principles and practices proven by leading private sector organizations,” an OMB senior advisor told Nextgov.

Rick Parrish, principal analyst for Forrester Research, said the A-11 guidance is a big deal.

“This is a big step in the right direction toward systemizing the way federal agencies approach customer experience as a real business discipline,” Parrish told Nextgov. “It’s really unifying in that way. There have been baby steps in the past, and this document is not the final answer, but it’s a big step.”

The guidance calls for agencies to measure customer experience in seven domains: customer satisfaction, confidence/trust, service quality, ease, efficiency and equity of process and employee helpfulness. Agencies will identify their “highest-impact customer journeys” and solicit feedback from “select touchpoints/transactions” regarding those seven metrics.

“These domains have been developed in alignment with leading practices from both the private and public sectors, including Fortune 500 companies, market research institutions, and international organizations,” the guidance states.

Agencies will compile data in “data dashboard templates.” It’s not known what the dashboards will require, but OMB states it will provide “dashboard templates, examples and instructions” to agencies by July 31.

Stephanie Thum, executive strategist for the Customer Experience Professionals Association and former vice president of CX at the Export-Import Bank, called the A-11 guidance an “evolution of what we federal customer experience professionals has been pushing.”

“There are several things to like, they’ve got customer experience in the correct vernacular and recognizing it as a discipline,” Thum said.