Personalized and engaging customer experiences are a key driving force in the private sector. It should come as no surprise that people are demanding a similar experience from their federal, state, and local government.

A recent study by the Springbrook Research Institute revealed that “98% of households want local governments to prioritize the adoption of top-tier user experiences and invest in security.”

Community engagement has long been the cornerstone of communication between government and the people it serves. While public forums, town halls, and outreach programs help foster dialogue, government leaders are recognizing that these interactions alone aren’t enough. For government, the customer experience must encompass the interactions and satisfaction of citizens, constituents, communities, and all those it serves (“customers”). Simply put, the customer experience needs to be a broader strategic priority.

Customer Experience (CX) Strategy offers government leaders a framework for transforming how they engage with their community members and at a broader level, helps define the role customer experience plays within their government. A strong CX strategy is grounded in building trust, gaining efficiency, and fostering a sense of partnership with the people you serve. As can be seen in the private sector, organizations that understand the importance of focusing on the relationship (not the transaction) end up having the greatest success in delivering a better experience.

Changing Current Perceptions of Customer Experience

Traditionally, government services – whether federal, state, or local – haven’t been known for user-friendliness. Long wait times, cumbersome processes, and a lack of transparency often leave customers feeling frustrated and unheard.

Moreover, consumer experiences in the private sector are heavily influencing expectations within the public sector, including a rising expectation that government services deliver a better digital experience. In a recent study by Springbrook Research Institute, 74% of respondents stated “their interactions with local government websites ranged from somewhat user-unfriendly to not user-friendly at all.”

A CX strategy can help flip the script on how local governments tackle this challenge. Customer experience strategies give governments the tools they need to understand customer needs, streamline processes, and deliver services efficiently and accessibly.

Why Customer Experience Strategy is Gaining More Attention in the Public Sector

Executing a strong CX strategy offers a variety of tangible benefits. Forrester reports that at the federal level, even a 1-point increase in a federal agency’s CX score can have a meaningful impact – more specifically, a 2.8% increase in trust towards the organization.

When customer experiences are done correctly, they create an environment in which those served feel empowered to participate in decision-making. Benefits can also be achieved through streamlining processes, which reduce administrative burdens, free up resources, and lead to cost savings.

A successful CX strategy also takes the employee experience into consideration. When government employees can focus on delivering positive experiences, they see greater value in the work they do – and as a result, job satisfaction typically rises.

5 steps to Build a Customer-Centric Government

Embracing a customer-driven approach requires a strategic investment, especially upfront. To help you on your journey, we’ve defined five key steps in the road to improve government customer experiences:

  1. Assemble the Right Cross-Functional Team
  2. Define and Align on a Customer Experience Vision
  3. Build a Customer Experience Roadmap with Prioritized Initiatives
  4. Foster a Culture of Customer Experience
  5. Gather Continuous Feedback and Iterate as You Act on Prioritized Initiatives

Let’s take a look at each of these steps in more detail.

1. Assemble the Right Cross-Functional Team

A customer’s journey often requires engaging across various government departments and services. Consequently, CX strategies are most successful when there is cross-collaboration across these departments. This might involve regular interdepartmental meetings, knowledge sharing sessions, and joint projects focused on improving the customer journey. This requires assembling a team with representatives from key areas like:

  • Customer Service: These team members understand the current service delivery landscape and customer pain points.
  • Communications: This team can ensure consistent messaging and effective communication across all channels.
  • IT: Technology plays a vital role in CX, so IT expertise is crucial for identifying and implementing solutions.
  • Human Resources: Upskilling employees to deliver exceptional customer service is vital, and HR is essential for training and development efforts.

2. Define and Align on a Customer Experience Vision

Having a clear vision before taking action is crucial. This vision should:

  • Articulate the desired state of customer experience: Describe the ideal experience you want customers to have when interacting with your agency, across all channels.
  • Align with your mission: Ensure that the CX vision supports your core objectives and values.
  • Be concise and memorable: Capture the essence of your customer-centric approach in a clear, easy-to-understand statement. If your employees can’t remember it, then they’re less likely to embrace it.

Vision buy-in from your functional team is crucial. Misalignment of vision will derail efforts and deliver subpar customer experiences.

3. Build a Customer Experience Roadmap with Prioritized Initiatives

Collaborate on a strategic CX roadmap that guides your public sector agency towards a clear understanding of your customers’ diverse needs, the current customer experience, and how to move forward to achieve your customer experience vision. This includes understanding how your technology needs to evolve. This roadmap is absolutely essential. It enables your teams to take strategic action and develop a streamlined focus.

  • Prioritization: Prioritize initiatives that will have the most significant impact on the customer experience. Consider factors like cost, feasibility, dependencies, and potential ROI.
  • Technology Integration: Identify technology solutions that can streamline processes, automate tasks, improve accessibility, and align with your customers’ desire for better digital engagement. This might involve adopting online portals, self-service tools, or AI-powered chatbots.

According to a recent study by the Springbrook Research Institute, “34% of municipalities depend on software solutions that are a decade old or older”

4. Foster a Culture of Customer Experience

At its core, CX strategy is about embracing a change in mindset. For a truly customer-centric approach, government agencies must consider:

  • Leadership Buy-in: Elected officials and department heads need to champion the customer experience vision and actively promote its importance within the organization. To achieve true success, this effort requires an ongoing commitment.
  • Employee Training: Invest in your team. Train staff to prioritize customer needs and deliver excellent customer service. This includes training on active listening, communication skills, and de-escalation techniques.
  • Customer Experience Success Measurement: Establish clear metrics to track your progress in improving customer experiences. Consider metrics like customer satisfaction scores, resolution times for inquiries, and self-help engagement.
  • Internal Communication: Clearly communicate the “why” behind your customer experience initiatives to all government employees. Regularly update them on progress to foster employee engagement and reinforce accountability for the CX strategy.
  • Recognition and Rewards: Ensure there is a program in place to recognize and reward employees who deliver exceptional customer service. Be creative in identifying where an impact has been made. Emphasize to the teams – especially those that are non-customer facing – that each of them can still have an impact on the customer experience. Celebrating these wins reinforces the importance of customer experience and motivates employees to go the extra mile.

5. Gather Continuous Feedback and Iterate as You Act on Prioritized Initiatives

Executing on prioritized initiatives from your customer experience roadmap is an ongoing process. As your teams take action, have a plan to regularly gather feedback through a variety of channels to understand how your efforts are meeting the diverse needs of your community members.

  • Feedback Mechanisms: Develop robust feedback mechanisms to capture customer sentiment about your services. Encourage open communication and actively listen to concerns. Analyze feedback to identify trends and areas for improvement. Most importantly, remember to close the loop on customer feedback to reinforce trust.
  • Data-Driven Decisions: Use data collected from surveys, website analytics, and performance metrics to evaluate the effectiveness of your customer experience initiatives and make evidence-based adjustments. Be a champion of experimentation and iterate based on what the data tells you.

Win the Hearts and Minds of Your Customers with Better Experiences

Government agencies can create a win-win situation for themselves and their customers by investing in CX strategy. Prioritizing customer needs, streamlining processes, and fostering a customer-focused culture can directly improve efficiency and help you build more positive, meaningful relationships with the customers you serve.

By using a systematic approach, you’ll achieve the clarity you need to deliver improved customer experiences in the future.

A successful customer experience strategy isn’t a one-time effort, but a continuous journey of improvement. By embracing ongoing feedback and iteration and adapting your approach as expectations evolve, your government agency can become a model for delivering exceptional customer experiences.

Making these improvements can be daunting. By using a systematic approach as you develop your CX strategy and prioritize initiatives, you’ll achieve the clarity you need to deliver improved customer experiences in the future. Still, seeking outside help is never a bad idea.

BlastX Consulting understands the unique circumstances government agencies face in delivering exceptional customer experiences, including breaking down silos, meeting the needs of a diverse communities, and working with outdated technology. If you need help making customer experiences a strategic priority within your organization, we can help you get started. Reach out to learn more.