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Simplifying the citizen experience (CX) in uncertain times

The challenges of this year have forced agencies at every level of government to change how they address the mission-critical need to digitize and enhance the citizen experience. 

Citizens expect frictionless, user-friendly ways to interact with government – regardless of the operational challenges required to provide that seamless experience. 

Digital Government Institute recently gathered a panel of CX leaders from federal, state, and district agencies to discuss the keys to simplifying the citizen experience. The main takeaway?  Remember the foundational principles of a positive CX. 

Michele Bartram, CXO of the U.S. Census Bureau, Ernest Chrappah, Director, District of Columbia Department of Consumer & Regulatory Affairs (DCRA), and Russ Jensen, CGPM, Director, City of Knoxville, 311 Center for Innovation (CSI), all agreed that in order for agencies to best serve the people, a few core tenets must be kept consistently top of mind – especially during challenging times. 

  • Understand the citizen’s request – and doing so with empathy. It isn’t just about having a good handle on what the citizen needs. It’s about caring about helping them to achieve a positive outcome
  • Listening, listening, listening. The only way to understand what the citizen needs, achieve a positive outcome, and convey empathy is practice good listening skills. This also applies to the way agencies gather feedback about their CX overall – by listening to what agents in the contact center (the front lines) are hearing from citizens in their interactions. 
  • Omnichannel access that is both user-friendly and frictionless. It isn’t enough to be on chat, phone, email, and text. These engagement points must also be designed in a way that is easy to use. For example, citizens shouldn’t have to retype or repeat the same information over and over. And, there should be consistency in the message that citizens receive, regardless of the platform they decide to engage on. Ease, speed, consistency, and simplicity – those are the mantras of positive CX. 

Panelists also weighed in on whether it was reasonable for citizens to expect the same experience from government as they get from the private sector. The resounding answer? “Yes!” 

All agreed that agencies must strive to be comparable with the private sector. In terms of delivery, the panelists also agreed that the differences between private sector and government are security, areas of compliance, and the challenges inherent to the procurement process. Despite these factors, though, they each asserted that agencies should be held to the same standard as the private sector in terms of the end-user experience. 

Another key takeaway was the emphasis on accountability requisite to delivering the best possible CX. Ms. Bartram noted that because delivering a good CX requires ongoing improvement, accountability is critical to ensuring that the process is constantly examined for points of enhancement.

What are the keys to ensuring that the citizen experience is constantly improved? Panelists weighed in there, too: 

  • Don’t assume that what works today will work tomorrow. Look at the cumulative effect of what you’re asking the citizen to do. Make journey mapping your (best) friend. 
  • Identify an executive champion within your agency who has the authority and tech savvy to fight for budget and resources. 
  • Learn, test, act, repeat. Are you looking at your site search and aligning your CX to what citizens are searching for? Are you listening to your contact center agents about what they are hearing? 
  • A/B testing is critical to learning about what works best for the constituencies you serve. 

Last but not least: technology can help you gather and review data to turn that data into insights. In the past, technologies like natural language processing and AI were cost prohibitive. No longer. While these tools can’t necessarily give you the insights you seek, they can help you process data more quickly and in more consumable formats to make analysis much, much easier.

Learn more about how technology can power the citizen experience.