Customer experience (CX) is an emerging area of focus within government. My role as Vice President of Customer Experience at the Export-Import Bank speaks to this reality. Our agency’s customers and partners consist of U.S. exporters, financial services institutions, insurance brokers and foreign buyers of U.S. products and services. All play a key role in facilitating U.S. exports, toward the creation of U.S. jobs, as outlined in our agency’s charter.
At Ex-Im, part of my responsibility has been to ensure our leadership team regularly reviews customer-oriented performance metrics. Take transaction turnaround times, for example. Our customers and partners continually tell us that transaction processing times are important. Because of that feedback, we measure and monitor turnaround times in the following ways:
- Real-time data. Employees may access turnaround time data anytime via Ex-Im’s internal website. Our system shows turnaround time standards and averages by product, broken down by month, quarter, and fiscal year. Chairman Fred Hochberg receives a weekly report highlighting current turnaround time averages.
- Weekly operations meetings. A team meets each week to review a list of customer transactions that are taking longer than the Bank’s internal standards. Medium-term deals are monitored on a 90-day basis, for example, while certain short-term transactions are monitored at 30 days. The team uses the list to identify red flags and push transactions forward.
- Government Performance Reporting Act (GPRA) reporting. Each year, Ex-Im Bank publishes turnaround time targets and performance data for the products used most frequently by our customers. Like private sector shareholder reports, GPRA reflects how customers’ transactions have unfolded within the agency.
While these activities help Ex-Im to see its performance from an inside-looking-in perspective, it has been my role to help bring customers’ perspectives into view. Ex-Im’s strategic plan calls for Ex-Im to improve the ease of doing business for customers. Therefore, we have adopted the customer effort score to help us to monitor customer perceptions on how easy, or how difficult, it can be to work with Ex-Im Bank. The customer effort score asks customers:
How much effort did you personally have to put forth to complete your transaction?
At Ex-Im, on a scale of 1-5, a score of “1″ is far less effort than expected. A score of “5″ indicates the customer believes he or she had to put forth far more effort than expected. We keep a running tabulation of the average score, which is regularly reported to senior leadership.
Good CX leadership takes an all-inclusive view of the organization, grounds itself in strategic goals and plans, and mixes in the art and science of customer relations. That is the basis for our CX-focused work at Ex-Im. Metrics and monitoring are a focal point of our endeavors.Stephanie Thum is the Vice President of Customer Experience at the Export-Import Bank of the United States.