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A Digital Revolution in Government Customer Experience Research Brief


Research Brief

Executive Summary


ost of the interactions federal agencies have with citizens don’t make national news. We typically don’t hear how easy it is to navigate a government website, request information or sign up for a service, unless that interaction goes awry. Just because we don’t hear about all the positive experiences, however, doesn’t mean there aren’t countless examples. In fact, citizen satisfaction with federal government services saw a 6.4 percent increase in 2016, jumping from 63.9 to 68 on a 100-point scale, according to the most recent ACSI Federal Government Report. This is the highest ACSI government satisfaction score since 2012.

But government’s work is far from over. Improving the customer experience (CX) is an ongoing effort that evolves as citizens’ needs change, and agencies must be prepared to quickly adapt to meet those needs. In an April 2017 Office of Management and Budget memo, agencies were directed to rethink “how the federal government can deliver services to its customers, and evaluate options on both cost and quality dimensions.” For agencies, technology will play a key role in making those improvements. In a recent GovLoop survey of nearly 150 federal government employees who are involved in CX at their agency, 75 percent said that CX is a priority and nearly 48 percent of respondents said that CX is improving at their agency (Figure 1).

A Digital Revolution in Government Customer Experience

But 40 percent believe that CX is generally staying the same, and 12 percent said it was getting worse, which means agencies must work to create a CX culture at all levels of their workforce (Figure 2).

To learn how agencies are prioritizing CX and what they’re doing to make it better, GovLoop partnered with Genesys and General Dynamics IT, both experts in navigating the CX landscape, on this research brief.

To develop that culture, agencies must be prepared to serve customers who may start out on their website, send a follow-up email and then call the contact center. A CX culture takes into account that true customer experience is about more than meeting citizens’ expectations during a single interaction but rather providing a pleasant and seamless experience across multiple platforms.

In this report, we explore what technologies agencies are investing in to improve CX and how those investments will benefit them internally, as well as the customers they serve. You’ll also hear from experts Megan Eunpu, Government Account Executive at Genesys, and Victor Janey, Program Manager at General Dynamics IT, on how agencies can enhance their CX efforts. Let’s begin by laying the foundation for why CX should be a priority in the public sector.

Fig. 1

Fig. 2

Is customer experience (CX) – how citizens perceive their interactions with your agency – a priority at your agency?

Do you believe that CX in government is improving, getting worse, or generally staying the same? 40%


Staying the same





Getting worse 19%


It’s a priority, but not an important one




Research Brief

Making CX a Priority at Your Agency “Customer experience (CX) is defined as the sum of all experiences a customer has with your organization.” – Source: Digitalgov.gov


hen we talk about customer service, we’re talking about the specific touchpoint or interaction that you have with the citizens you serve. For example, if you provide helpful insights over the phone or via chat sessions, that’s great customer service. But as technology improves and your agency provides more channels for citizens to interact with government, your team’s focus should shift from single interactions to the entire customer journey or experience, Eunpu said. That journey may include chat, email and Twitter interactions with a single person. “It is a holistic experience, and that’s what you want to leave people with,” she said.“Especially if they’re going to be returning to [use a] service, you want to keep them satisfied and exceed their expectations.”

That’s happening across government, thanks to investments in digital services, greater focus on agency customers at the C-suite level and efforts to create a CX culture where all employees understand and embrace their roles, responsibilities, expectations and behavioral norms in the customer experience ecosystem. For citizens, their standard for gauging CX in government is how well it measures up to the commercial services they use every day. That’s why we asked survey respondents how they think CX in government compares with the private sector on a scale of one to five, with five being very advanced.

Fig. 3 On a scale of 1-5, how advanced do you think CX in federal government is in comparison to the commercial sector, with 1 being not advanced at all and 5 being very advanced?











A Digital Revolution in Government Customer Experience

Nearly 60 percent rated government a three or higher. The remaining 40 percent gave government CX a score of two or below (Figure 3). One reason for the lower ratings is there’s a bias when it comes to citizen interactions with the private sector versus public sector, and that’s a hurdle agencies must work to overcome, Janey said. Some people assume their interactions with government will be cumbersome and inefficient before making contact with an agency — whether by phone, in person or online. The ultimate goal is to change those perceptions by making citizens feel their experiences were friendlier, easier and faster than they thought it would be. “You want them to compare it to those great experiences they’re getting from companies like Amazon,” Janey said. Citizens should identify with your agency as a

“At the root of what we want to do in government when serving citizens is build a sense of trust.” — Victor Janey, Contact Center Program Manager at General Dynamics IT

trusted source that meets them on their terms. In other words, your agency allows them to interact with your team on the channel and at the time that best meets their needs. “That boils down to empowering the citizens and giving them a sense of control,” Janey said. “Often, dissatisfaction with government services stems from citizens feeling helpless in a bureaucratic maze. But if they’re engaged and empowered, they’re going to lionize that service to their friends and family.” It’s counterproductive to think that government doesn’t have to focus on CX because it is often the only provider of a particular service, such as issuing passports or drivers licenses. Trust is at stake, and if that erodes, it will take a toll on how citizens interact with your agency. It only takes a few negative interactions to shape public perception about CX at your agency. “Plus, your team is the face of the government,” Eunpu said. “So you have to come forward with your best solution, and you really have to know your constituents. There are a lot of things that underscore CX being a priority, but I think it comes from a sense of government striving to be on an equal footing with the private sector.”



Research Brief

Lessons From the Private Sector


ne thing that government is learning from the private sector — and modeling — is the power of using customer data to enhance CX. Agencies have a lot of data about customers’ demographics, needs, preferences and previous interactions with government, but that data hasn’t always been used. “We’re seeing that done a lot more at agencies today than in the past, in order to understand what the customer really wants and needs out of that agency — even at the granular levels,” Eunpu said. Agencies can analyze the data and use it to be more predictive and responsive to what citizens need. For example, some government agencies are using data about their customers, such as veterans and business owners, to recommend additional services that they may not have known about. These agencies are even taking CX a step further and using journey maps to create a holistic view of a customer’s experience across multiple channels.

Journey maps describe a customer’s entire journey, even the parts that occur before and after contact with your organization. They typically contain elements such as the customer’s attitudes, emotions and needs. Eunpu recommended that agencies look beyond their own walls and collaborate with other agencies to remove stovepipes that prevent them from viewing the customer experience holistically. For example, if someone is trying to get a federal student loan and has to interact with the Education Department, as well as the Internal Revenue Service, it makes sense for those agencies to work together in the best interest of the citizen. “There are certainly hurdles and challenges to doing that, but it’s worth cooperating to improve the customer journey,” Eunpu said.

Journey maps describe a customer’s entire journey, even the parts that occur before and after contact with your organization. They typically contain elements such as the customer’s attitudes, emotions and needs. – Source: Digitalgov.gov

A Digital Revolution in Government Customer Experience

How You Can Improve CX


t’s clear that agencies are making strides to enhance CX, but there will always be opportunities to fine-tune the customer experience as needs evolve.

The first step to improving CX is figuring out what areas to address and what changes will drive the greatest impact. It sounds simple, but prioritization can be challenging if there are competing interests or if your agency lacks a clear path forward. “You’re not going to boil the ocean in one day, or one week or one year,” Eunpu said. “But it’s about finding those areas within your agency that will have the biggest impact in the long run.” Make sure you’re able to articulate why you’re focusing on a particular area, what the expected outcomes are and how those changes make processes easier for the customer. Understanding how well your agency is currently managing CX will help to establish a baseline for benchmarking progress.

We asked the GovLoop community how citizens would rate interactions with their agencies via several channels: call center/voice, website, chat, email, text, mail and social media. We used a scale of one to five stars, with one star being a poor experience and five stars being an excellent experience. Website and email received the highest rating — three and a half stars — followed by three stars for call center/voice, mail and social media. Text and chat received the lowest ratings with two and a half stars (Figure 4).

Fig. 4 On a scale of 1-5 stars, how would citizens rate their experience interacting with your agency through the below channels, with 1 star being a poor experience and 5 stars being an excellent experience? Email Website Call center / Voice Mail Social Media Chat Text



Research Brief

Eunpu provided some context around why some services, such as website and email, received higher ratings than social media or chat. “If I’m looking for information, I’m likely starting on the agency’s website,” she said. “I may not be too frustrated at that point. From there, I might email to get additional information, but I’m still fairly early in that process of trying to get what I need. But once I get to social media and the call center, I’m probably pretty frustrated because I can’t figure out what it is I need to do.” The issue may not be that those particular channels are lacking, but that agencies need to make those services a part of an omnichannel approach. Her advice to agencies is to keep in mind customers’ journeys and understand their experiences before, during and after they interact with your agency, as well as their sentiments and frustrations. Fully understanding these nuances can make all the difference in your service ratings. Another point to keep in mind is that some channels are more established than others, Janey said. “Websites and email have been around for quite a while now, and I think there’s a greater comfort level with those channels. Also, people generally view them as being a bit more stable. They have more static content [and consistent messaging], and the agency has some control in those channels.” On the other hand, there is less predictability and agency control with social media and call centers. Sometimes information relayed over the phone isn’t always consistent, and social media conversations can be hard to monitor but also very helpful if agencies are responsive.

Regardless of the channel, agencies should coordinate internally to ensure that what employees say and the messaging they produce are consistent. Driving consistent messaging will be particularly critical as agencies expand their service-delivery channels with technology. More than threequarters of survey respondents said investments in CX technology is critical to improving citizens’ interactions with the federal government (Figure 5). In the next section, we’ll discuss what technology agencies plan to invest in and how they expect those investments will benefit them and the customers they serve.

Fig. 5 Do you believe that increased investment in CX technology is critical to improving citizen’s interactions with the federal government?

Yes 78%



It’s of some importance, but not critical


A Digital Revolution in Government Customer Experience


How Tech Can Boost CX


echnology is playing a key role in the way agencies communicate with citizens, track those interactions and analyze data to improve the overall customer experience. But when it comes to CX, there are some tools and platforms that agencies believe will have the greatest impact. When asked about those investments, customer relationship management tools, knowledge and content management tools and omni-channel platforms — including web, voice, self-service and email — topped respondents’ lists (Figure 6). In the following pages, we provide a brief overview of how each of these investments can boost CX at your agency:

Fig. 6 What three technologies do you believe will most impact government agencies’ ability to improve customer experience?

57% Customer relationship management tools 50% Omni-channel platforms 48% Knowledge and content management tools 42% Automation 32% Analytics and reporting tools 12% Artificial intelligence


Research Brief

Customer Relationship Management Tools

Knowledge and Content Management Tools

Agencies need a robust customer relationship management (CRM) tool to have that full end-toend view of all customer interactions. “You need to be able to see where they started that journey with your agency and all of the touch points along the way,” Janey said.

Knowledge and content management tools provide a backbone for consistent messaging across an agency’s workforce and platforms. They allow agencies to tailor messaging to fit a particular platform, such as social media or an agency website.

Every employee who is serving citizens needs a transparent view of what’s happened with each customer. “That’s how you can begin to anticipate what a customer needs without having to ask them to repeat information that they’ve already provided. That’s just a lynchpin — a foundational aspect of a well-rounded customer experience.”

“It’s easier with a robust knowledge management tool to develop, edit and maintain your agency’s messaging in plain language,” Janey said. “If there’s a new policy you need to quickly get out to the public, this will make it much easier to promulgate that quickly across your contact center enterprise.”

Eunpu agreed. A significant part of the customer experience is making sure you know why the customer is contacting you, she said. For example, if someone applied for citizenship and then followed up with a phone call, chances are they are calling to check on the status of their application. CRM tools enable agencies to be more prepared and proactive when responding to that customer. When that person does call, your agency’s representative can verify that they received the application on a particular date and explain when and how they can expect the agency to follow up with them as part of the process. You can take CX a step further and proactively reach out to that customer via email or text letting them know that the process is running smoothly.

It’s important to optimize these tools so they support mobile capabilities. People are increasingly ditching their desktops and laptops and using smartphones as their primary devices.

A Digital Revolution in Government Customer Experience

Omnichannel Platforms Omni-channel gives citizens the power to communicate with government on their own terms, wherever and whenever. For example, a working professional may be more inclined to contact an agency via online chat in the morning but make a phone call in the afternoon. A student in a dorm room may opt for an online chat over a phone call. “Omni-channel gives people choice,” Janey said. “It not only increases access to services, but it builds citizen trust in your agency.” It’s important for agencies to move from multichannel to true omni-channel, he noted. That involves using an integrated platform that provides a holistic service model for CX. Janey shared how General Dynamics IT is working with agencies to support this transition by providing complete contact center and digital services. When people call, chat with or email an agency, they get a seamless experience. It doesn’t matter to which centers they’re routed, they’ll receive a consistent experience. Whether agencies are investing in omni-channel capabilities or management tools, there will be an upfront cost. To justify those costs, agencies should be prepared to show the return on investment. Eunpu highlighted her team’s work with Michigan’s Office of Child Support (OCS) as an example. The agency used Genesys Customer


Experience Platform to slash customer response times from an average of two weeks to five minutes. Employee productivity increased 40 percent, and the call volume decreased from 26,000 calls per month to 16,000 calls per month, according to destinationCRM.com. “By looking at how to streamline each of these pieces, that made interactions easier not only for citizens but also for employees,” she said. The agency used technology to transform how it empowers employees to serve Michigan families more efficiently. Simply put, technology fuels better customer experiences. It simplifies processes and makes it easier to complete transactions, provides flexibility to engage via a preferred channel and supports fast, efficient, single-interaction resolutions — among other benefits (Figure 7).

Fig. 7 In what ways do you believe technology can improve citizens’ experiences with your agency? (Select 3)


Flexibility to engage via preferred chanel (e.g., web, voice, self-service, chat, email, text)


Simplify processes and make it easier to complete transaction

55% Fast, efficient, single-interaction resolution 51%

Improve the quality of interactions with agency employees

14% Richer digital experiences


Research Brief

Fig. 8 How do you believe CX technology will benefit your agency/government? (Select 3)

69% Ability to deliver better service to citizens 59% Improved agency/government reputation 50% Employee productivity 41% Employee engagement 34% Cost savings 13% Employee retention

Citizens aren’t the only ones benefiting from tech investments in CX. Improved technology empowers employees to do their jobs better, specifically when it comes to delivering better services to citizens (Figure 8). As services improve, the agency’s reputation improves as well. This has a trickle-down effect on employee engagement, retention and productivity. When employees feel they are contributing to government’s mission of serving the nation, they tend to perform better. Despite strong beliefs that omni-channel platforms, knowledge and content management tools and customer relationship management tools will have the greatest impact, more than half of survey respondents said they plan on investing in automation (Figure 9). When asked about this difference between what employees think would work best and where their agencies plan to invest money, Eunpu said

A Digital Revolution in Government Customer Experience

it likely boils down to cost. “Agencies have fewer human resources to work with than they did in the past, so they want to take those simple interactions and offload them to an automated system. This automation means their agents can focus on more complex interactions.” Agencies have less experience with omnichannel, so it will take time to implement. But the more they invest in this new way of serving citizens, the more they will realize how much time and money they can save. In terms of efficiency, omni-channel can help reduce repeat calls for the same or similar issues by making information and the customer experience consistent across multiple channels. “You can do a lot of that with automation,” Eunpu said. But agencies also have to think critically about how to join automated services together and provide a seamless experience.

Fig. 9 What technology do you plan on investing in? (Select all that apply)

57% Automation 40% Knowledge and content management tools 40% Analytics and reporting tools 37% Omni-channel platforms 34% Customer relationship management tools 11% Artificial intelligence



Research Brief



he good news is that CX in government is improving by leaps and bounds. Agencies are investing in the tools and techniques to put their service delivery on par with the private sector, and those investments are paying off.

“When you ask that question of why, take a look at who your customers are and how to improve that journey for them.” — Megan Eunpu, Government Account Executive at Genesys

With investments in customer relationship management, content and knowledge management systems, agencies are moving toward a culture that addresses not only service delivery but the entire customer experience.

As agencies comply with administration priorities to rethink how the federal government can improve customer service, cost and quality will be top of mind. As a result, more agencies are increasing their use of online self-services and efforts to automate manual processes internally. But technology alone won’t transform CX in government. It requires a change in mindset and culture across an agency — one that is geared toward improving the customer journey. “Agencies need to continue to look ahead to how customers’ expectations are really changing,” Janey said. Eunpu’s advice for agencies: Always ask why. “There are a lot of shiny objects out there and a lot of really cool things,” she said. “But the biggest questions should be: Why do you want that investment, and where do you see your agency going? When you ask that question of why, take a look at who your customers are and how to improve that journey for them.”

A Digital Revolution in Government Customer Experience

About About Genesys

About General Dynamics IT

About GovLoop

Genesys® powers 25 billion of the world’s best customer experiences each year. Our success comes from connecting employee and customer conversations on any channel, every day. Over 10,000 companies in 100+ countries trust our #1 customer experience platform to drive great business outcomes and create lasting relationships. Combining the best of technology and human ingenuity, we build solutions that mirror natural communication and work the way you think. Our industryleading solutions foster true omnichannel engagement, performing equally well across all channels, on-premise and in the cloud. Experience communication as it should be: fluid, instinctive and profoundly empowering.

To help agencies keep up with growing citizen expectations and gain operational efficiencies, General Dynamics IT delivers end-to-end Customer Experience Solutions, from customer journey design and the implementation of digital technologies, data analytics and virtual agents, to the full deployment of secure and scalable contact center operations.

GovLoop’s mission is to “connect government to improve government.” We aim to inspire public-sector professionals by serving as the knowledge network for government. GovLoop connects more than 250,000 members, fostering crossgovernment collaboration, solving common problems and advancing government careers. GovLoop is headquartered in Washington, D.C., with a team of dedicated professionals who share a commitment to connect and improve government.

For more information: www.genesys.com

For more information: gdit.com/cx

For more information about this report, please reach out to info@govloop.com.


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