At the end of 2021, the Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government stated, “Our Government must recommit to being ‘of the people, by the people, [and] for the people’ in order to solve the complex 21st century challenges our Nation faces. Government must be held accountable for designing and delivering services with a focus on the actual experience of the people whom it is meant to serve.” Panelists at Carahsoft’s 2023 Government Customer Experience and Engagement Summit agreed that this mission begins with an organization’s employee experience.
A New Approach in Customer Experience Over Time
With the recent introduction of mandates and the new executive order, Government agencies have increased momentum to move customer experience (CX) from being a standalone initiative to weaving it into every facet of daily operations. Jill Leighton, Vice President of Public Sector Strategy and Solutions at Qualtrics, said that today, agencies are not just singularly improving a particular service or touch point. Now, they are taking that insight and implementing it into policymaking, strategic planning, reporting success and designing programs, while also learning where to invest and prioritize.
Using the best resources and constantly staying on top of innovation is an undertaking for any agency. Employees can be the most underutilized asset for organizations, so it is important for agencies to understand what employees need for peak performance. An immense amount of change has happened throughout the pandemic in working environments, and organizations need to take full advantage of the newer talent capacity and building opportunities within teams and employee talent pools. Additionally, agencies can unlock insights from employee and CX satisfaction through data gathering tools like conversational analytics, natural language processing and machine learning.
Artificial Intelligence in CX
Ironically, the possibilities presented by AI technology are critical to a human-centered CX strategy, Leighton said. With the implementation of AI, agencies are able to automate data analysis in various formats, perform automatic cataloging categorization and background filtering. For example, employees on the front lines of call centers can benefit from weekly, even daily summary reports showing the customer’s most pressing problems, their satisfaction levels and other aspects of their experiences. Using AI for the purpose of collecting qualitative and experience data, call operators can gain valuable insight into how to improve their human-centered CX approach and learn how to personalize each interaction they have. Additionally, using that data to optimize efficiency will improve service delivery. These solutions help move employees away from manual processes so they may focus more on interactions with customers.
What Is Impacting the Work Force?
Many aspects of Government operations can be difficult to navigate. Panelists referenced a general talent shortage, lack of funding and outdated solutions as barriers for the CX workforce. One panelist said they encounter homegrown identity and access management solutions and piecemeal fixes throughout their organization’s CX efforts, which makes it challenging to provide a seamless experience for customers and employees. Another problem CX professionals face is increased expectations from those consuming Government services.
Ron Vickery, Area Vice President of Customer and Industry Workflows, Government Health and Higher Education at ServiceNow, expressed, “We are putting employees in a really tough situation if we are not empowering them to deliver against that expectation. So, I think that, across the board, is a big trend; rising expectations of the way service should be received and making sure that we have empowered these employees to deliver that level of service.”
Translating the Employee Experience to Customer Experience
Government agencies must prepare employees to provide excellence service with a mission-driven mindset as well as proper resources and technology to deliver it. Benefits such as flexibility in the workplace, operational efficiency, training and easy access to tools and resources can attract new talent as well as retain existing employees. If they feel supported by and invested in their agency, workers will be more inclined to provide the quality of service expected by their leadership.
Nicky French, Customer Service Branch Manager for the Transportation Security Administration (TSA), said that the TSA’s security mission presents a unique challenge as this agency must balance national cybersecurity with customer experience. She stated, “Our officers in the front lines have to enforce rules, and sometimes that can come across as a little more militant than we would like. So, we try to make sure that the officers are professional and polite. We spend a lot of time just level setting what customer service means.”
Employees need to know that their organization pays attention to their needs. When positive change is made, employees know their voice is valued and has an impact. Addressing challenges within operations enables employees to make a difference and move their agency’s CX mission forward.
To learn more about the latest in the CX landscape and how Carahsoft’s industry-leading partners can support your Customer Experience initiatives, please visit our resource hub to access all on demand recordings and information from the 2023 Government Customer Experience and Engagement Summit.