An intense focus on the customer and their experience is not a new priority for most private sector organizations. Just look at Amazon; and while it hasn’t always been that way for the federal government, that’s beginning to change – in some cases rapidly. In fact, my colleague Tim Rund noted customer experience is key a focus for federal leaders in 2022.
There are a number of reasons federal leaders are focused on customer experience (CX); however, the biggest (in our opinion) is the President’s Management Agenda (PMA) and Presidential Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government. Here’s Priority 2 from the PMA:
“Delivering excellent, equitable, and secure Federal services and customer experience.”
As Tim noted, we LOVE this shift. To toot our own horn, we’ve long worked with federal customers to develop people-first customer experience strategies. And now the President is on the same page, stating “People are at the center of everything the government does.” It’s also clear this is a top-to-bottom approach, covering “pivotal life experiences” to “routine service interactions,” and a change to the way government does business, as the President speaks to in the Executive Order:
“Further, the Federal Government’s management of its customer experience and service delivery should be driven fundamentally by the voice of the customer through human-centered design methodologies; empirical customer research; an understanding of behavioral science and user testing, especially for digital services; and other mechanisms of engagement.”
The Perfect Storm
Organizations today are in a state of permanent white water, experiencing continuous change. That continuous change means survival instincts kick-in. But when you’re just trying to survive, it’s easy to lose track of why you exist. In the case of federal agencies, that reason is to service their customers.
Compounding matters (mostly for the better), today’s customer has more ways to voice their opinion on experience than ever before. That means leaders hear more frequently, and more loudly when things go wrong.
Combine those elements with the PMA and recent Executive Order and you’ve got a perfect storm of opportunity for customer-focused leaders.
“Organizations today are in a state of permanent white water, experiencing continuous change. That makes it easy to lose customer focus.”
Let’s Break it Down
We believe it’s easier to hit your targets and goals by putting the voice of the customer at the center of everything that you do. For large agencies, however, that can be daunting. To make it a little easier, we break CX down into bite-size pieces.
- Functionality: Is your organization giving your customer what they need?
- Accessibility: Did your organization make it easy for that customer to achieve their desired outcome?
- Enjoyment: Did your organization make the interaction an enjoyable experience?
The answers to those simple questions dictate how we work with our clients to deliver the most impactful CX solution for their organization. It’s also where our additional Solution Areas come into the picture.
CX as Part of the Organizational Whole
I sometimes think of our Solution Areas as a cycle where one type of engagement has the possibility to morph into another. Here’s an example:
Our CX team may begin an engagement to assess the customer experience and employee experience (EX) (which go hand-in-hand – a topic for another day). That work often bleeds into culture. Why? Because an organization needs the right culture in place in order to allow the CX mindset, principles, and customer-first posture to thrive. As we’ve discussed here before, leadership drives culture. That means we need to work with organizational leaders to ensure the right CX behaviors are being modeled starting at the top of the organization.
Our Solution Area consulting model provides the fluidity to begin an engagement in any area and shift to best meet an organization’s needs. To ensure that happens, I meet with my fellow Solution Designers weekly to discuss observations and needs from across The Clearing’s client engagements.
Our CX Approach
The Clearing’s biggest differentiator is our ability to combine CX expertise and evaluation with the change management elements needed to implement customer experience enhancements.
To do this, we embrace Agile principles and utilize prototyping via the Amperian Cycle, our rapid prototyping process. The Amperian Cycle allows us to approach CX through a quick, iterative lens, which means our clients don’t have to invest a ton of dollars or time to get started.
An organization can start with that iterative pilot and test into the right solution vs. going all-in without exploring options. We find this hugely beneficial. As my colleague Sharon said in her recent blog post on prototyping, “It’s better to fail fast and cheap than slow and expensive.” In other words, our process gives you more opportunities to get it right for your organization.
Most importantly, we do it all with a people-first approach. It’s not just lip service – we do it because it works. We truly listen to the people at the center of a change effort, which often indicates what an organization and its customers really need.
“Today’s customer has more ways to voice their opinion on experience than ever before. That means leaders hear more frequently, and more loudly, when things go wrong.”
Where CX is Heading
I kind of gave it away at the beginning, but it’s what’s in the PMA and Executive Order. It’s more organizations operating with a CX mindset and using it for good. Not just to improve service, but in service of equity, social impact, and social justice. It all adds up to what we talked about earlier: there’s a perfect storm of opportunity for leaders to dive into CX and improve the experience for customers and employees alike.
Keep an eye out for my fellow Solution Designers’ deep dives into their respective Solution Areas: Jason Miller on Culture and Sonya Patel on Strategy and Leadership. And if you want to chat about customer experience in the federal space, reach out to me at firstname.lastname@example.org.