Jan 11 2023

How Can Agencies Devote Resources to Improve the Customer Experience?

A recent report calls on the federal government to improve its data sharing processes and invest in enterprisewide solutions.

A recently released report from Accenture Federal Services and the Partnership for Public Service finds that federal agencies still lack the full, flexible customer experience funding needed to modernize their IT systems. According to the report, agencies lack the resources to consolidate customer data and share insights with the technology teams developing modern digital platforms. How can agencies change their approach to improve the customer experience? The report offers recommendations to help agencies position themselves as more customer-centric and ensure they have the long-term funding to improve their processes.

Develop a Knowledge Mobilization Strategy

Creating a good customer experience is about giving your audience what it needs. Figuring out what customers need is as simple as listening to them. The Accenture report makes the case that agencies do a good job of gathering customer insights from a number of sources, such as surveys and congressional caseworkers. But the report also argues that not all agencies act effectively on what they learn; information often remains siloed, and vital insights aren’t properly documented or communicated.

One way to bridge the gap between research and action is to develop a knowledge mobilization strategy, which involves a range of initiatives related to the production and use of research results. The report recommends investing in three areas:

  • Knowledge mobilization, which requires teams to record customer feedback from across channels and consolidate data to avoid information silos
  • Customer insights accountability, which connects customers’ pain points with the root causes of agencywide customer experience challenges and tracks action on customer insights, responding directly to their feedback
  • Rapid prototyping to accelerate the speed at which research on the customer experience is used to implement improvements

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Create Comprehensive Data Sharing Policies

According to the report, most federal agencies share customers but not data, and they often lack clear data sharing policies. As a result, customer experience teams operate without clear guidelines, a situation exacerbated by confusion and common misconceptions surrounding privacy laws that protect data.

Agencies can remedy this by prioritizing internal data sharing agreements that can validate or verify data without sharing customers’ personal information. Agencies can also develop data sharing policy templates based on recommendations from the Data Sharing Working Group of the Chief Data Officers Council.

WATCH NOW: How federal agencies use emerging tech to improve customer experience.

Cultivate Consistency with Enterprisewide Digital Solutions

Agencies need to ensure a consistent customer experience across all channels — including contact centers, mobile apps and offices — and work to make customers feel they can effectively transition from one channel to another in one session. A lack of coordination among teams will lead to customer frustration. Agencies can mitigate this with a shift in mindset: Make a top-down commitment to adopt enterprisewide solutions instead of custom solutions for individual silos.

Another solution involves creating blended teams of people with both technology and customer experience backgrounds. But regardless of the approach, outdated technology will hinder the customer experience. The report recommends a long-term commitment to funding modernization, including the consolidation of websites and migration of data and applications to the cloud.

DISCOVER: Here are 7 tips to support your agency's cloud migration.

Government Needs to Take Bold Action on Data Sharing

The report calls on the federal government to allow agencies to share common customer data in a secure environment, which would require enterprise solutions. Agencies need to “take bold action,” the report notes, to persuade the federal government to recognize the importance of enhancing customer data protection.

The report argues that agencies should invest in emerging technologies that enable secure data verification, and the Office of Management and Budget should create policies to govern new arrangements as needed. Likewise, the report suggests OMB should designate a central authority to establish governmentwide data protection laws and regulations pertaining to customer experience, along with standard parameters for conducting customer research and collecting feedback.

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