The official would lead customer experience efforts across government.
President-elect Joe Biden and his incoming administration should work with Congress to create a federal chief customer officer to oversee the government’s customer experience efforts, according to a report by Forrester.
The report explains that while the White House and Office of Management and Budget have helped usher much-needed improvements to agencies’ customer experience efforts over the past five years, performance across those agencies hasn’t increased all that much. According to Forrester, which measures federal customer experience annually, the average agency score has risen only 4.6 points on its 100-point scale—up to 61.1 in 2020 from 56.6 in 2015.
The report argues a federal chief customer officer, building on the baseline successes over the past two presidential administrations, could dramatically improve customer experience efforts across the federal government.
“Because of the hard work of the Office of Management and Budget and other agencies, there is a federal-wide baseline understanding of customer experience now and years-long work in customer experience that has made the time ripe for moving to the next level,” Rick Parrish, principal analyst at Forrester and co-author of the report, told Nextgov.
Parrish said the presidential transition is a “perfect” time to begin the conversation about adding another C-suite leader. Such a move would follow previous efforts initiated under President Obama and continued under President Trump. The Obama administration elevated customer service to a cross-agency priority, and the Trump administration elevated the focus on customer experience. In August, OMB updated its Circular A-11 guidance for agencies, including expanded definitions of terms like “customer” and “service delivery.”
Parrish said a federal chief customer officer would likely be a Senate-confirmed position ranked on par with the federal chief information officer, who oversees the government’s IT efforts. The right candidate’s resume would be important, Parrish said, as the individual would need to work across multiple agencies, build relationships across the executive branch and quickly gain the respect of senior White House officials.
While Congress has been polarized on many key issues, Parrish noted that improving customer experience and government service delivery remain bipartisan issues. Any legislation that creates the federal chief customer officer role would likely add or amend other federal policies related to customer experience, Parrish said.
“Getting this written into law is not that far-fetched a thing,” Parrish said. “It is good politics for everyone.”