Anyone who’s ever filled out a form on a government website knows that customer-centricity has never been at the top of any government agenda. Whether a user is attempting to pay a parking ticket, secure social security benefits or renew a license, the federally-funded digital touchpoints to accomplish these tasks often seem designed to drive people away.
But 2020 may be the year that all changes. In 2019, the Federal Government updated its President’s Management Agenda — a long-term plan for modernizing the federal government that included a surprising new addition. Number four on its newly revised to-do list was “Improve customer experiences (CX) with all federal services.”
The new agenda item was triggered by a series of data sets, including a 2017 federal customer experience survey which showed that government services were lagging nine percentage points behind the private sector when it came to positive customer experiences. Given that these sites were and are still paid for with tax payer dollars, the poor showing enraged many users.
The authors of the new President’s Management Agenda believe that federal customers deserve an experience that compares to, or exceeds, that of leading private sector organizations. What’s more, they intend to use human-centered design to make improvements.
The action plan lists several human-centered design strategies that will help them engage customers, empathize with their needs and iterate solutions to meet those needs. They include capturing and analyzing the voices of citizens, creating customer journey maps and using customer feedback to develop and revise action plans.
They also plan on sharing all of the feedback and response plans with citizens, creating a constant feedback loop that will theoretically lead to continuous improvement.
“Making data available publicly via dashboards will help citizens set expectations and hold government accountable for improvements,” according to the plan.
Industry experts are notably impressed with the government’s plans to solve its customer centricity issues.
“Human centered design and CX have been around the private sector for quite some time and are widely accepted as differentiators and critical enablers in how their businesses perform and grow,” writes Robert Grashuis for the Federal News Network. He believes the focus on CX in the management agenda suggests a growing adoption of human-centered design in the way federal agencies approach digital design, and he believes the impact could be profound.
“These disciplines will not just enhance the customer/citizen experience but will also drive marked improvements in IT deployments as well as overall agency operational performance.”
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