Late last year, the U.S. government announced its commitment to improving the customer experience for all U.S. citizens who use government services.
“The President will sign an Executive Order, Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government, directing that Government leaders account for the experiences of the public in seeking Government services.”
This approach aims to consider citizens as customers, and therefore ensure that everything possible is done to optimize their experience and improve their satisfaction with government services.
The American government wants to put people back at the center of decision-making. This is a customer-centric strategy, that lots of brands implement by placing the customer at the heart of their employees’ day-to-day tasks.
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This customer-centric approach is a real paradigm shift. Traditionally, administrations providing citizens with a service don’t seek customer satisfaction, and rarely carry out customer satisfaction surveys. When they do, surveys tend to be in paper format, without the technical and human capacity to analyze them and draw insights to improve the user experience.
As evidenced by the McKinsey study, customers are mostly disappointed with the Federal Government’s customer experience: an average 5.6 satisfaction score out of 10, and 70% of transformation programs that don’t succeed.
Putting the citizen/customer back at the center of the public service strategy can entail real and tangible changes for customers.
Focusing on Moments that Matter
The U.S. government particularly wants to improve the experience of U.S. citizens at important times in their lives, such as the birth of a child, retirement or applying for a small business subsidy.
In a customer-centric strategy, these are the key moments of the customer journey to focus on, the ones that are the most impactful and have the strongest effect on the customer’s overall perception of the service provided.
The government also wants to offer a seamless customer experience, i.e., as smooth as possible, regardless of the contact channel used by the customer.
For example, every time you go to a branch, or call an advisor, you have to provide all your information again, as the different departments don’t necessarily share their files… This is a lengthy process that can be frustrating for customers.
To ensure a seamless customer experience, advisors need to have immediate access to the customer’s history, regardless of the channel, to deal with their request quickly and smoothly.
For government agencies, improving the customer experience can also be seen in terms of ROI, as an investment that will pay for itself.
If customers have a positive and successful experience first time round, they won’t need to return to the agency, or call an advisor back many times. Seeking out efficiency to reduce costs is common in the services industry and is a good example of demonstrating the ROI of a customer-centric customer experience improvement strategy.
Examples of Key Contact Points
Here are some of the areas the government wants to focus on, where a successful customer experience is essential:
Reduction of customer effort:
- Save time by having the option to schedule customer support call-backs.
- Online passport renewal: save time, no more waiting and reduce the effort and cost required to print, go to a post office, and use a paper check.
- One “digital Federal front door” for all Government benefits, services, and programs in just a few clicks.
- Automated access to electronic prenatal, birth, and postpartum health records to improve the experience and support better care coordination.
- Reduced call center wait times for small business owner applications.
Digitalization of processes:
- Retirees will be able to claim their benefits online with updates on the status of their application.
- New online tools and services to ease the payment of taxes.
- Increased ability to use telehealth with doctors.
The Importance of a Customer-Centric Approach Today
In 2022, focusing on experience is essential in all organizations, whether private or public. Especially after several years in a pandemic, where the notion of customer care has taken on its full meaning.
It is also important that organizations put the human element back into customer relations, while optimizing the hybrid customer journeys that have emerged during lockdown, and that are here to stay!
Generally speaking, when an organization really starts to listen to the customer and improve their experience, the change is instantly felt. Employees also sometimes subconsciously improve their quality of service when continuous monitoring is put in place.
Of course, these improvements are only sustainable if they are followed up with concrete actions to really change the processes and improve the customer experience.
Customer Experience in the World of Services
In today’s service sector, the service itself no longer makes the difference, but the customer experience provided by the brand. This is what builds customer loyalty and stops them leaving for the competition.
Customers are exposed to customer experience champions on a day-to-day basis, and they compare all the services they use with each other. So, if they experience excellent customer service with a private insurer, for example, their expectations for public services are going to be much higher.
Although it might not seem “fair” to compare private players to public players, this is what happens in citizens’ minds. Especially because public services are not free and paid for with their taxes!
The Use of a Customer Experience Platform in Public Services
Improving customer experience is not just a strategy for brands and companies. It can also be adapted to public services, as proved by this US government initiative.
For several years now, customer experience improvement initiatives have been deployed beyond the industries traditionally focused on customer experience (retail, banking, insurance, transport, etc.), in a wide range of other sectors: healthcare, public sector, BtoB, etc.
A customer experience platform can prove to be valuable in these sectors, too.
For example, the SKEEPERS CX Management platform has been deployed in France by the French Ministry of Armed Forces, as well as other public-like services, such as social landlords or hospitals.
For current employees, shifting their mindset to a customer-centric strategy may take some time.
For example, when the SKEEPERS CX Management platform was launched in a network of medical labs, the biologists didn’t have a customer culture or think in terms of customer strategy. They needed extra support to implement good practices and improve the patient experience.
For these kinds of projects or large-scale initiatives such as the US government’s, employee support is essential, in addition to technical improvement and digitalized processes, in order to train them and provide them with simple and effective tools.
To ensure their commitment throughout this transformation, it is also important to share the voice of the customer with employees and give meaning to their jobs. Sharing regular verbatims from satisfied citizens, for example, will help them feel involved and valued.
Would you like to discuss the implementation of a customer experience platform? Feel free to contact us!