With public expectations at an all-time high, and trust in government nearing all-time lows, agencies need to step up their game. Veterans, seniors, students, taxpayers—all Americans—deserve the best service from their government. Here are our predictions for how the federal government will improve customer service in the coming year:
1. Many agencies will create a Customer Office that reports to the head of the agency.
In most government agencies, no one owns the overall customer experience. Several agencies, including GSA, have hired Chief Customer Officers (CCOs), and more will follow. CCOs will be given staffing and resources to develop an agency-wide view of their customers, and integrate customer-centric thinking and business processes across their entire organization.
2. Agencies will focus on digital business strategies to improve the overall customer experience.
Digital channels are rapidly gaining ground as the public’s preferred channel for interacting with government. Agencies will adopt the guidance put forth in the U.S. Digital Services Playbook to help them build effective digital services.
3. The Administration’s focus on customer service will drive agencies to launch meaningful customer-focused initiatives.
The establishment of a Customer Service Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) goal gives agencies additional incentive and support to streamline services, set performance benchmarks, and improve the government customer experience.
4. Mobile will accelerate as a way to deliver service anytime, anywhere, on any device.
People increasingly expect to access government information and services from phones, tablets, or other devices, when and where it’s most convenient for them. Agencies will move to responsively-designed websites, and develop more mobile apps to meet this need.
5. Social media will continue to effectively deliver information and services, especially to specific populations or demographics.
Social media experts from across the federal government will finalize the draft U.S. Public Participation Playbook, and will continue to work with stakeholders from both the public and private sectors to improve how agencies serve the public via social channels.
6. Contact centers will continue to be an important channel to serve the public.
While digital channels are gaining preference with some demographics, many people still prefer face-to-face or phone contact. Contact centers will provide integration between channels through robust knowledge bases used by websites, contact center representatives, and other customer touchpoints.
7. Managers will focus on creating a customer experience culture within their agency.
Just like employees at any other business, federal employees want to excel at their jobs and deliver exemplary service to their customers, so agencies will develop programs to train and reward employees to infuse customer service best practices into everything they do, improving the experience for customers.
8. Agencies will pilot a feedback button to assess experience with the overall customer journey.
This simple tool will offer a high-level view of service delivery across the federal government, to help agencies identify areas for improvement.
9. Collection and measurement of key website performance and satisfaction data will improve.
Use of the Digital Analytics Program (DAP) will continue to expand across government. This no-cost, hosted website analytics tool helps government agencies measure performance of their digital services, and it will be augmented to measure customer satisfaction and integrate with key performance indicators.
10. Agencies will align contact channels to deliver the same answers to customers via email, phone, chat, website etc.
The same customer may start out on your website, send you an email, and call your contact center. Agencies will align operations and share information across all their contact channels, to ensure customers get the same correct answer, regardless of the channel they choose.
11. Several agencies will launch high-impact, high-profile initiatives to improve the customer experience.
Agencies will move from talk to action, using customer and program data to identify opportunities to make huge strides in service improvements.
12. Personas and journey mapping will help agencies identify and address customer trouble spots in their workflows.
Personas will help agencies bring their customers to life, and illustrate how government programs and processes impact real people. Journey maps will help agencies walk in their customer’s shoes, to identify where business processes break down, and need to be fixed.
13. Enterprise solutions will help agencies make better connections with customers.
Agencies will invest in enterprise customer relationship management (CRM) tools to help them manage the customer experience across the entire agency, and improve the customer journey.
14. Federal employees will be recognized and rewarded for delivering great customer service to the public.
The President just announced a new (non-monetary) awards program that will recognize and reward professionalism and service excellence, and highlight initiatives that improve service, so they can be replicated across government.
15. Efforts to improve customer experience will be driven by passionate employees across the country, at all levels of government.
Most interactions with government happen “in your neighborhood.” Federal, state and local government agencies will seek input from employees who work on the front lines, to identify ways to improve government service delivery from the ground up.
If your agency is looking for ways to improve the experience you provide to your customers, we recommend increasing collaboration with other agencies (federal, state, and local) to share best practices, as well as working with the private sector and non-profits to make things easier for your customers.
How is your agency planning to improve service to customers in 2015? Please let us know in the comments!