Customer experience is not just a thing that you solve with software or hiring a person – a total organizational change is required.—Greg Gershman, co-founder and CEO of Ad Hoc
This shift, from prioritizing an organization’s needs to making the customer’s overall experience the driving force, is an incredible opportunity to positively transform people’s trust in the government. It’s a chance to make the services they rely on throughout their lives easier to use and better. And while it’s a significant, challenging task, it’s one that has never been more important.
Recently, Ad Hoc CEO Greg Gershman had the privilege of moderating an industry panel (How We Serve Who We Serve: Customer Experience) during Government Business Executive Forum’s EdgeSeries23 where they talked about this pivotal topic.
Greg was joined by the following government leaders:
- Executive Director of CMS Digital Service Andrea Fletcher
- Associate CIO for the USDA Digital Infrastructure Services Center David Peters
- FEMA Chief Information Officer Charles R. Armstrong
The panelists held an insightful conversation on how their respective agencies are working to improve the experiences of both their employees and the people who rely on their services. Customer experience (CX) has been a priority since President Biden signed the Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery in December 2021. Since then, agencies have been reevaluating the strategies and tools they use to serve the public while also studying how the public rates their experiences.
Enhancing services with a multi-pronged approach
Providing a thorough onboarding process is a key first step agencies can take to ensure employees start off with positive experiences using their internal services. This can then translate to being more efficient and effective in how they provide services to their external customers. Staff who understand an agency’s mission and who support transforming how they operate and serve people are essential for improving CX.
The panel also spoke on how product, human-centered design, accessibility, and security are all part of improving the customer’s experience with any government agency. Working with a product-based, human-centered mindset keeps agency teams aligned on the public’s needs and ensures the products they build meet those needs.
This is especially important as agencies refine their CX focus on solving problems based on defined life events. For example, when FEMA was supporting efforts to collect legal documents for a community hit hard by a natural disaster, they discovered that people didn’t have the traditional proof of home ownership – deeds, mortgages, land records. This could have lengthened the time or even halted progress of getting people the help they needed. Instead, they shifted their strategy.
Charles Armstrong commented that, “Rather than sit and argue and ignore the criticisms, we turned toward it and listened and came up with…a policy change that we’ve been able to expand.” By breaking down barriers and streamlining steps people must take to get the help they need, the government creates more efficient, compassionate processes that are easier to navigate.
Another way agencies are working to improve CX is to hire people with deep knowledge of accessibility best practices to develop government digital services that everyone can successfully use. A website might be able to pass Section 508 compliance checks, but that doesn’t always ensure someone using a screen reader can do what they need to do while on the site.
And teams need security experts who can design agency websites with strong authentication capabilities. People want to be assured that they’re providing their personal information on a site whose agency has taken proactive measures to secure it.
Speaking to enhanced security efforts and challenges agencies face, panelist Andrea Fletcher commented “How do you provide two-factor authentication with populations with no smart phones, unhoused populations, people with no email address or access to internet? Now you’re basically putting another barrier in place that limits access to services by trying to secure their information - it’s a really tricky problem.”
This is an area that continues to evolve as agencies also determine how to incorporate two-factor authentication for better security while also preventing additional barriers from occuring. Identity management and authentication are critical components to security, but agencies must balance that with removing as many barriers as possible for those whose situations may already be challenging.
Providing a well-rounded CX for all
Designing digital services that are easy to navigate, secure, and accessible for everyone are all part of improving CX. But creating a truly customer-centric positive experience also requires that agencies look beyond just developing powerful technology – it’s about reimagining how they serve and treat the people using it.
Ad Hoc is honored to have been part of this important conversation with leaders who are making significant impacts on CX within the government space. You can access the complete recording here. If you’re interested in learning more about CX and how Ad Hoc can support your goals in developing a more human-centered experience for your customers, check out our white paper on how using human-centered design principles are key to the process.