In the private sector, businesses prioritize their customer’s experience (CX) – it can determine which businesses profit or fail in a competitive market.
But, with virtually no competitors, public sector agencies have traditionally seen little incentive to build a more customer-centric infrastructure. Instead, agencies have focused on more pressing challenges like regulatory compliance and budget limitations.
However, recent studies like Forrester’s “Why and How to Improve Government CX
,” are showing the benefits that agencies can reap by offering a better experience to customers. And now, federal policies are mandating that all agencies
, especially High Impact Service Providers, add CX improvement into their compliance requirements.
The challenge is that improving CX requires a mindset which has little foundation in the public sector. That leaves many agencies unsure about how to start, how to ramp up CX efforts quickly and how to transform CX activities into benefits.
To build momentum and justification for CX improvements, leaders need a roadmap that shows how the improvements will lead to key benefits. That requires more than making journey maps or surveying customers to identify pain points. It requires converting those findings into a solid customer understanding that generates actionable recommendations – and a cycle of continuous improvements and benefits for the agency.
Following are some CX activities that can build your customer understanding and ultimately help achieve your mission, achieve quick wins, and improve customer service.
Gaining customer insights
: Gain a deep customer understanding through surveys, focus groups, interviews, and crowdsourcing.
How to Achieve Benefits
: Enable your mission by using customer insights to quickly identify critical issues for customers and organize “tiger teams” of specialists to address those issues immediately through direct contact with the customer.
Benefit Example – Mission Achievement
: A federal agency was receiving complaints that one of their online application platforms was difficult to navigate because it had not been updated in years. They had tried to modernize the platform three times, but failed because they did not understand their customers, nor did they base requirements on their customers’ needs. Through customer feedback and analysis of insights, the agency was able to create a new set of customer-vetted requirements that were built into a visual prototype of a modernized online application platform. This approach now serves as a guideline for future modernization projects, and serves as an example of how the agency can use a customer-centric mindset to achieve their mission to improve quality, timeliness, and security for its customers.
Visualizing the customer journey
: Develop a customer journey map to identify pain points or improvement opportunities in the customer’s journey. In “The Truth About CX
,” the Harvard Business Review said that “A company may get millions of calls about a product and must handle each one well. It must also address the root causes of the calls.”
How to Achieve Benefits
: Achieve quick wins by leveraging findings and understanding of the customer within the process and ecosystem. Prioritize low-effort, high-impact changes that improve the customer experience, generating momentum and credibility to catapult the expansion of similar organizational changes in the future.
“A company may get millions of calls about a product and must handle each one well. It must also address the root causes of the calls.”
– “The Truth About CX,” Harvard Business Review
Benefit Example – Quick Wins
: A federal agency used call center data to map a typical caller’s journey, identifying the areas of their journey that required them to call in the first place. Through mapping out the caller’s journey, several pain points with different ranges of impact surfaced. Instead of implementing sweeping changes to existing processes, the agency prioritized the issues and took an iterative approach to addressing low-effort, high-impact issues first. In this case, the agency worked to implement small changes to their website to increase accessibility. This quick win improved customer trust and, in turn, leadership trust – leading to the expansion of CX projects and investments to continue generating benefits.
Transforming the service
: Develop the service blueprint for a customer-facing service. In “Trends 2016: The Future of Customer Service
,” Forrester found that 73% of customers say valuing their time is the most important way to provide good service.
“73% of customers say valuing their time is the most important way to provide good service."
– “Trends 2016: The Future of Customer Service,” Forrester
How to Achieve Benefits
: Improve customer service by using customer feedback as the guide to transform into a service organization that focuses on reducing customer effort and time required to receive services.
Benefit Example - Improved Customer Service
: A federal agency had two separate customer service functions; one owned by the business and one owned by the office of the Chief Information Officer (CIO). Customers had trouble understanding the difference between the services and often submitted tickets into both in an attempt to to resolve their issue quickly, resulting in lost and abandoned tickets. After analyzing customer feedback, the agency developed a new service model that included changes to its people, process and technology that led to a better overall customer experience.
Understanding, visualizing and transforming
Whether a public sector organization is providing proprietary or competitive services, a customer focus can help it understand its customers, visualize solutions and transform the organization to better achieve its mission.
Principal ITSM, Advisory
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