Earlier this week, I shared with my colleagues at EXIM the results of our 2016 export credit insurance customer survey. This is the third consecutive year that our largest customer segment has been asked to share their feedback with us. We appreciate knowing, through our customers’ eyes, how we are doing on our agency’s strategic goal to improve the ease of doing business. But what strikes me as most compelling is the story that has emerged over the past three survey years about our customers’ business outcomes and what they have achieved, in part, with EXIM’s help.
Have you been hearing the terms “Customer Experience” or “CX” a lot lately? Maybe you’re wondering how they relate to customer service, or maybe you want to learn more about CX and how it can help your customers. Whether you directly interact with customers, support front line employees, or manage program operations, your work has an impact on your agency’s customers. And it’s very important that excellent customer service be at the forefront in the federal government because we impact so many lives.
If you were to spend any time with me in the kitchen, you would often find me searching out substitutions for ingredients that I don’t have on hand or have to drive 100 miles to find. I don’t want to abandon the recipe, so I substitute instead. I find that in the world of internal government IT systems, recipes for success are hard to come by. So, what do I do?
Customer experience, or CX, is everywhere these days. Companies tout how they’re improving the customer experience with faster service, greater convenience or better products. If you’re wondering how customer “experience” differs from customer “service,” customer service usually involves a single interaction, such as a phone call to your cable company, while the customer experience encompasses the entire relationship, e.g., from how you originally selected your cable company, to their service throughout the course of your entire relationship with them.
Three years ago, GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies (OCSIT) set out to design a system to consistently measure customer satisfaction across our office. We were inspired by the Digital Government Strategy, which tasks agencies to adopt a customer-centric approach to service delivery. Armed with tools such as the Digital Analytics Program (DAP), which offers guidance on common customer satisfaction metrics, we developed a Government Customer Experience Index (GCXi) for OCSIT.
OMB’s Lisa Danzig, who co-leads the Cross Agency Priority (CAP) Customer Service Goal with Carolyn Colvin, from the Social Security Administration, shared a status update on the CAP goal work they’ve done since we last spoke with her, earlier this year. Background When the public comes to the federal government for information and services, they should receive an optimal customer experience. The Customer Service CAP goal spells out specific strategies to help us achieve this.
Meeting customer needs can be done, no matter what agency you represent. A panel discussion at the 2015 DigitalGov Citizen Services Summit delved into customer experience (CX) work at three agencies with diverse missions. Andrew Hughey, Product Development Director at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS), moderated the panel that featured Stephanie Thum, Vice President of Customer Experience at the Export-Import Bank of the United States (Ex-Im Bank), and David Simeon, myUSCIS product manager for U.
Get your customer personas right, and you will improve the customer experience (CX) for the rest of your audience. That’s advice Rick Parrish from Forrester Research gave in response to an audience question during the September 29 DigitalGov University webinar on the state of CX in the federal government. Your key customers are those that are most important to the organization, and often most difficult to serve, he explained.
Customer Experience (CX) deserves a voice at an agency’s senior levels. Putting CX at the forefront of policy-making decisions will have the most positive impact for customers. Elevating CX is how the Department of Education’s Federal Student Aid (FSA) champions the 22 million applicants seeking $150 billion in education loans each year. Brenda Wensil, Chief Customer Experience Officer at FSA, shared her insights with DigitalGov University in a July 28, 2015, webinar about the establishment of the FSA CX Team.
Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) Goals prioritize activities that all agencies must tackle each year. An important CAP Goal for 2015 addresses customer service and compels federal agencies to improve the quality of service the public receives from the federal government. To build on the momentum of this goal, the government Customer Experience Community of Practice (CX-COP) was launched in early 2015. The CX-COP supports collaboration and sharing among government customer experience practitioners.
In June, the new Customer Experience Community of Practice (CX-COP) hosted Jonathan Stahl, Executive Director of Ballpark Operations and Guest Experience of the Washington Nationals, to share best practices on how to deliver a great customer experience. Below are four insights he shared. Develop and Share Core Values The Nationals’ core organizational values are excellence, performance and accountability. The core values are posted prominently wherever employees gather, such as break rooms, on the way to the field, and in offices.
To provide great customer service, bring your agency’s customers to the table. This is one of many insights recently offered by Stephanie Thum, Vice President of Customer Experience at the Export-Import Bank of the United States. Thum has previously written about customer experience for DigitalGov, including Three Ways to Evolve Your Agency’s Customer Mindset and the forward-looking Will 2016 Be the Federal Government’s ‘Year of the Customer?’ In May, Thum sat down with DigitalGov to dig deeper into the federal customer experience (CX) landscape.
Earlier this year, we published 15 Government Customer Service Trends for 2015. We’re halfway through the year now—how are these trends holding up? 1. Centralized Customer Offices A few agencies have created centralized customer offices, while others question the need for a single organization that focuses on the customer. As the public’s overall satisfaction with the federal government continues to fall, a single organization can monitor customer feedback from across the enterprise to identify and address problems with the customer experience (CX).
We recently sat down with Lisa Danzig, who’s leading work at the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) on the FY15 Cross Agency Priority (CAP) goal on Customer Service (CS). The CS CAP goal aims to help agencies deliver world-class customer service to citizens that’s on par with leading private sector services by streamlining transactions, setting customer service standards for high impact services, and making it faster and easier to complete transactions with government online.
Design research isn’t rocket science. But for many of us in the federal government, it can seem daunting and unfamiliar. We’re here to to help demystify the process of design research for those of you ready to wade into the waters. We’ve both done our fair share of design researching at the Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) over the past year. It hasn’t been easy—we’ve worked under itty bitty budgets and crazy timelines.
Dennis Snow and Jeanne Bliss have always been the customer experience (CX) authorities in my mind. Dennis’s Lessons from the Mouse and Jeanne’s Chief Customer Officer were two of the first books I read that described what the practice of customer experience looked like in the halls of Fortune 500 companies like Lands End and Microsoft, as well as on Main Street at Walt Disney World. Years ago when I first flipped through the pages of those books, I realized that I was a budding CX practitioner, even though my private sector titles were more akin to business development, client relations, and service quality.
It’s been a while, but in previous posts, I described what we’ve learned from operating StudentAid.gov, the U.S. Department of Education’s Office of Federal Student Aid website created to educate students and borrowers about the federal student aid programs and process and help them make informed decisions about financing college and career school. We first released the site in 2012, but we haven’t sat still yet! The plan has always been to create new and integrate current features that exist on other FSA websites.
When focusing on customer experience, we all know that we need to truly understand our customer if we expect to provide them with an enjoyable experience. In an effort to do so, organizations often jump right to a survey to identify their customers’ needs and wants. While surveys are a great first step to understanding customers, they’re not the only step. The most you should expect from a well-crafted survey is detailed knowledge in the form of hard data indicating where to conduct further research.
Surveys are a great way to gain valuable insight into your customers’ true interests and needs. With the abundant number of survey tools available, it’s almost too easy to quickly put together a survey and send it out to your target audience. All too often, organizations will be in a hurry to get their survey out and will send out a long, wordy introductory message for a survey, or conversely, will not provide enough context.
The federal government is increasingly focused on designing and delivering citizen-centered services with enhanced experiences that deliver value to customers. These ideals are established in the Presidential Management Agenda Customer Service Cross-Agency Priority Goal, the Digital Government Strategy, and various open government activities. Designing services to be responsive to be life events that drive public needs is a powerful way to deliver citizen-centered value. What is a “life event?” Life events are events that have a significant impact in a citizen’s/stakeholder’s life and that warrant government awareness or involvement.
We know search engines aren’t Magic 8 Balls, but that’s still how we expect them to behave. We want them to answer our complex and burning questions based on just a few words. And we’ve felt that frustration when the top search results don’t serve our needs, and the results page itself makes us work. At DigitalGov Search, we think a lot about how to make the public’s search experience on government websites better.
This month, our round up focuses on customer experience (CX). As I was rounding up the CX events and articles we’ve shared on DigitalGov over the past year, I realized that CX touches all of the work we do. From Web to mobile to contact centers and social media, we need to not only be aware of our customers’ experiences but also respond quickly and make changes that will enhance their experiences.
“The customer is king.” “The customer is always right.” Regardless of your feelings on these age-old customer service adages, the fact remains: we’re all serving someone. No matter what corner of the federal digital space you occupy, you are connecting with people, and the outcome of those connections matters. To recognize the importance of these relationships, DigitalGov is focusing on customer service as our May monthly theme. There are numerous ways to look at the customer experience and many digital professionals may ask themselves, how is it different from user experience?
It can be easy to forget that customer experience (CX) improvement efforts within the government sphere aren’t limited to surveys, journey maps, analytics, big data, apps, and technology. Watching Export-Import Bank’s Annual Conference come together, I’m reminded of the fundamental role that interpersonal communication plays in improving customer experience, from the front line of our unique agency. The conference is happening April 23rd-24th at the Omni Shoreham Hotel in Washington, D.
At the end of last year, DigitalGov posted an article predicting that 2016 would be the year of the customer. Stephanie Thum, Vice President of Customer Experience at Export-Import Bank, looked at the great strides made in federal customer service in 2014 and called it the year of “planting seeds.” She then pointed to 2015 as the year of “germination and nurturing.” Our DigitalGov team decided to go to the root of a lot of agency customer service: contact centers.
The Digital Analytics Program (DAP) is a cornerstone of the 2012 Digital Government Strategy’s mission to improve the citizen experience by streamlining the collection and analysis of digital analytics data on a federal government-wide scale. The DAP, provided by GSA to all federal executive branch agencies, delivers digital analytics tools (like Web analytics and customer satisfaction survey tools), performance metrics guidance, metrics benchmarks, and training, all at no cost.
Whether they pop up while perusing an e-commerce site or land in your inbox after your bumpy flight in from Chicago, surveys are used in many different industries to gauge customer satisfaction and glean insight into user motivations. They are a useful tool in the kit of a user experience designer or anyone who is involved with improving the usability of a product. Surveys seem deceptively easy to create, but the reality is that there is an entire industry and an academic field based on survey design.
Live Web chat is an important component of good customer service. People like having the option of talking with an agent in real-time without having to pick up the phone. While live chat is not widespread, several agencies have shown great success in serving the public through this alternative channel. At a recent Government Contact Center Council meeting, colleagues from HHS (cancer.gov), Education (StudentAid.gov), and GSA (USA.gov) shared their challenges and successes in implementing and managing Web chat.
While many people tout the death of the home page, it’s still an important piece of the user experience on USA.gov. In 2013, 30% of all sessions on USA.gov included the home page—that’s 8.67 million sessions. The numbers for GobiernoUSA.gov are even higher—79% of all sessions included the home page. According to Jakob Nielsen, “A homepage has two main goals: to give users information, and to provide top-level navigation to additional information inside the site.
Customer service. Customer satisfaction. Improving the customer experience. These buzzwords have become well-trodden territory among government strategists as a new wave of agencies attempt to ignite—or reignite—a focus on customers. Of course, putting customers first is a worthy goal. But what, exactly, do we mean when we use words like “service” and “satisfaction”? These terms are easily understood in the abstract; however, precisely because of their broad, abstract nature, they can also become roadblocks for pinpointing the specific metrics—and sparking the right strategic conversations—that lead to true customer-oriented improvements.
Using contact centers to deliver digital services is an emerging area in government. Due to the growth of online services, centers receive more attention and represent an important touch point for customers. When you need to speak directly with someone to get help or resolve an issue, it must be a good experience. This reflects on all channels associated with that brand. Timeliness of resolving your problem, question or request.
1. Meet all Laws, Requirements, Policies, and Directives for Federal Contact Centers Understand and follow all Privacy, Security, Disability, and Service Contract Act requirements. 2. Use Performance Metrics to Influence Business Rules and Drive Improvements Develop Key Performance Indicators/Metrics (see Performance Goals). CSLIC could be used as a start. 3. Develop and Use a Comprehensive Quality Assurance Program Monitor quality. Use data to provide feedback to website/content team.
In our very first customer experience (CX) blog post about GSA’s Office of Citizen Services and Innovative Technologies’ (OCSIT) Customer Experience Program, we published our principles and values. Our core principles say that all staff will: Take responsibility for providing an experience greater than customer expectations. Engage, listen and resolve. Design business from the outside in, not the inside out. Incorporate customer experience as a key success metric in everything we do.
Digital metrics are critical for measuring, analyzing, and reporting on the effectiveness of your Web, mobile, social media, and other digital channels. Every agency should have a metrics strategy to measure performance, customer satisfaction, and engagement, and use the data to make continuous improvements to serve its customers. Part 1: Common Metrics: Guidance, Best Practices, and Tools Part 2: Reporting Requirements and Common Tools Part 3: Rationale and Framework for Common Metrics and Measures Part 4: Case Studies, Training, and Additional Resources Part 1: Common Metrics—Guidance, Best Practices, and Tools Agencies should ensure that they collect, analyze, and report on a minimum baseline set of performance and customer satisfaction measures.
In October 2012, comScore, a Web analytics research company, released an independently produced report that analyzes 75 federal agency websites on a range of quantitative and qualitative factors. The report was provided to GSA as part of GSA’s contract with comScore to collect analytics on federal websites. This report focuses on consumer impressions of public websites. comScore gets its data from representative consumer panels, so the analysis does not include business or government users.