Federal Customer Experience Needs Improvement

Published: August 16, 2018

Digital GovernmentGovernment PerformanceMobilityPolicy and Legislation

In order to reach mission success, federal agencies must improve the customer experience (CX).

Federal agencies scored only 59% out of 100% for CX, according Forrester’s recent research. This is 10 points behind average private sector scores using the company’s Customer Experience Index. Forrester ranked the quality of the CX for 15 agencies and found the combined average score to be unchanged from the last two years.

One reason agencies scored so low is the area of digital experiences. Federal customers who used websites, email or social media described their experiences as “difficult, ineffective and emotionally negative.” Users rated federal digital experiences five points lower than more traditional physical customer service channels such as visits to brick-and-mortar locations or communications with call centers.

One of the tenants of the president’s reform and reorganization plan is to “transform the way Americans interact with the federal government by establishing a government-wide customer experience improvement capability.” The reform plan proposes to modernize and streamline the CX for citizens and businesses and elevate it to a level comparable with leading private-sector organizations.  OMB, in partnership with USDS and GSA’s Technology Transformation Service, is slated to partner with federal agencies to identify key customer groups, map their journeys, and improve their experience across organizational structures and delivery channels.

A number of federal initiatives are already underway to improve CX, particularly digital experiences. GSA’s Office of Government-wide Policy (OGP) is promoting universal design as a way to transform how the federal government approaches IT accessibility. GSA’s Customer Experience Center of Excellence (CoE) is working with USDA to conduct interviews and map end-to-end customer journeys across the organization to shape future CX strategy and port best practices to other federal agencies. Also the “Connected Government Act” signed into law in January, requires that agency websites be mobile friendly.

Additionally, the public-private partnership ACT-IAC published a “Customer Experience Playbook: A Guide to Transform Service Delivery” in early August. According to one of the playbook authors, this is “the first government playbook to help guide executives and program managers in transforming services to their customers.”  The playbook is designed to help agencies understand the current state of customer satisfaction and experience; create a customer strategy that identifies service gaps and plans to fill them; and develop a business case to justify resource investment.

Federal customers expect efficient and well-designed services equivalent to leading private-sector organizations. Contractors may find opportunities to assist agencies in improving CX through implementation of unified communications, website design, human-centered design, customer journey mapping, cultural change management, system design and consulting.