Government needs to fully, flexibly fund agencies’ customer experience budgets if they’re to seriously invest in their capacity to compile and use customer data to improve IT systems, according to a Partnership for Public Service report released Tuesday.
Agencies lack the resources to consolidate data from qualitative interviews and surveys of customer groups and share insights with the technology teams designing and developing modern digital platforms, according to the report, which was coauthored with Accenture Federal Services.
President Biden issued the Customer Experience (CX) Executive Order in December 2021 with the goal of placing key life events at the center of digital services, and the Technology Modernization Fund Board designated $100 million in June for high-impact service provide projects improving CX. But long-term funding is needed for agencies to establish closed-loop feedback systems for identifying and responding to issues customers have with digital services and tracking progress toward resolving them.
“[T]ruly shifting from a culture of waivers and workarounds to a deeply embedded, customer-centric mindset requires greater collaboration and investment among multiple stakeholders beyond the core CX community — including finance, human resources, legal and beyond — to address long-standing barriers,” said Megan Peterman, CX and design leader at Accenture, in a statement. “Our report lays out a blueprint for building on the progress made to design customer journeys that mirror life experiences and deliver more equitable services for all.”
Based on interviews with federal officials and national research and academic institutes, the report makes seven recommendations:
- empower deputy secretaries with CX data, staff and performance management systems;
- set expectations for chief financial, information and human capital officers;
- make customer data easily accessible to staff;
- streamline data sharing;
- invest in digital talent, solutions and infrastructure;
- build external partnerships with vulnerable customer groups; and
- co-design digital services with customers.
PPS Vice President of Research, Evaluation and Modernizing Government Loren DeJonge Schulman is most excited about the seventh recommendation because of the potential to overcome physical, emotional and resource barriers to positive customer experience.
“When we give federal agencies the correct tools to implement positive change in their customer
experience systems, they do so effectively,” DeJonge Schulman said in a statement.
The report also suggests four broader actions government can take to improve CX including fully authorizing agencies to hire in accordance with their CX needs; allow for cross-agency investments, programs and resources; use emerging technologies and centralized data-sharing authorities and agreements for secure information exchange; and redesign regulatory and statutory CX frameworks to streamline recertification, access and eligibility.
“Administration, agency and congressional leaders must work together to redesign a government that is capable of not just understanding all its customers’ needs but also of building solutions for them and being accountable for how well those customers’ needs are met,” reads the report.