Customer Experience

The Customer Experience (CX) Symposium Series: A Thought Incubator for Federal CX Practitioners

Jan 21, 2022

The Customer Experience (CX) Symposiums from the U.S. General Services Administration (GSA) Office of Customer Experience (OCE) act as both connector and thought incubator for CX practitioners across the federal space. Different from the CX Community of Practice or large conferences, the CX Symposium series convenes a small group with the explicit purpose of CX exploration, thought experimentation, and curiosity-led extrapolation.

The symposium format was originally piloted around 385 b.c.e., meaning that it’s been through quite a bit of user testing as a platform for engagement. It requires that each member of a small group speaks from their own perspectives on a large-scale question. Through this conversational process, the group coalesces not around a solution to the question, but around a set of shared truths regarding that question, including contradictions, limitations, and affordances inherent to the question itself. Solutions, if any emerge, are happy outputs, but the primary outcome is engagement, generated knowledge around the question, and collaborative, conversational practice. These, then, are the rules of the CX Symposium games:

  1. Everyone is Welcome: whether your title CX practitioner or not, you are welcome.
  2. Conversation, Not Defense: The engagement tool is generative conversation, not a defense of a point of view.
  3. Practice-led Solutions: The outcome of this work is increased knowledge on how to converse; the outputs of this work, when they occur, are better, more inclusive solutions in our daily work.
  4. No Single Answer: There is no one answer or process to any questions posed in a symposium.

The first CX Symposium (January 2021) asked the simple question: what is CX? In it, the group discussed CX as a concept—whether or not it is a passing fad, and what data drives CX in a meaningful way. In the second Symposium, (August 2021), participants engaged in future-thinking exercises under the premise that increased collaboration between agencies is both desirable and possible in driving better customer experience in the federal government. For our federal colleagues, further details and findings from these engagements are available; please email to reach Ana Monroe or Sheev Davé in GSA’s Office of Customer Experience, and we’d be happy to share them with you.

We’re excited to hear about the energy behind CX coming from senior leadership across government, including the direction from FY 22 OMB A-11 Section 280 (PDF, 11 pages, 410 kb), as well as the Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government. We hope to continue the CX Symposiums, to embrace the questions and demands these directives impose on our civil service, and, through engaging with them as dedicated professionals and consumers of government services ourselves, help create a kinder, more human, and more transparent government.