How to Improve Your CX Strategy INDUSTRY PERSPECTIVE
How to Improve Your CX Strategy 1
Executive Summary Creating a stellar experience for customers who interact with your agency is about more than tracking metrics and checking boxes. At its core, an excellent customer experience (CX) provides a seamless, pleasant, and efficient end-to-end journey — for the veteran searching for benefits information online, to the individual waiting in line to be served at a local office, or the taxpayer reaching out to your agency’s call center. These interactions — and the outcomes they produce — are the difference between outstanding and poor customer experiences. For instance, let’s say your agency launches a new website for users to access services online, but they can’t easily find what they’re looking for. They end up calling your agency or venting their frustrations on social media to other potential users. Your agency’s goal was to drive more people to your site, but the unintended consequence of a poor experience put more strain on your call center — costing you time and money, and a hit to your reputation. On the other hand, if users can easily navigate your website and quickly access the resources they need, that greatly reduces the chance they’ll call your agency for additional help. It’s also likely that they’ll share their positive experience with others and return to your website again in the future.
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To create more positive experiences, agencies need a holistic and strategic approach to customer experience — one that accounts for the various mediums that customers use to interact with government, including phone, social media, websites, and in person. Agencies must ensure that service doesn’t diminish as customers traverse these channels. To help agencies build on their current efforts around CX, GovLoop partnered with ForeSee, a leader in omnichannel customer experience analytics for web, mobile, contact centers, and more, to produce this report. ForeSee partners with agencies to help them advance their mission, improve customer satisfaction and lower costs. In this report, we discuss: • Current customer experience challenges and how agencies can address them strategically • 7 best practices to drive better outcomes from your CX strategy • Current leaders in government who are doing CX right • How ForeSee helps government improve the citizen experience
The Challenge Thinking About CX Strategically Customers have come to expect a certain level of ease and convenience, whether they’re buying goods and services from a retailer or completing an online government application. They want to access information any time, from any device, and if they need assistance over the phone, they want knowledgeable and courteous staff to help them. That means regardless of where, when, and how a customer connects with your agency, you must be ready to serve them across multiple channels. The challenge for agencies, as well as private companies, is ensuring that each touchpoint or encounter with a customer produces a positive outcome. For example, are phones answered promptly when customers call and is the person on the other end able to resolve their issue? Can
customers easily navigate your website and find what they need? Is your agency’s message and information consistent across all channels, including social media and e-newsletters? “When we look at delivering an ideal customer experience, one of the things that government struggles with is internal channel conflict,” said Dave Lewan, Vice President of Public Sector at ForeSee. For example, although agencies may prefer that people use a digital, self-service option as much as possible, a poor experience could drive them to use other channels, such as the call center or a local office. Customers are forced to another channel because the one they preferred doesn’t meet their needs. “There is a right way and a more efficient way to deliver a great experience,” Lewan said. “One channel’s subpar experience can ruin the overall experience for that customer.”
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The Solution Approaching CX strategically starts with a proper understanding of what the customer experience entails. CX, not to be confused with customer service, is about the overall experience that customers have with government. Although it’s tempting to use the two terms interchangeably, they aren’t the same. Customer service focuses on a point in time, or a single interaction that a customer has with your agency. That could involve sifting through FAQs online, getting direction from a call center agent, or waiting in line at a regional office. Customer experience takes a holistic view across channels to ensure that each touchpoint provides a consistent experience that caters to the customer’s preference at that time, especially when they leverage multiple channels, online or off, to obtain the answers or service they need. That holistic approach to serving customers should shape your CX strategy. When it comes to CX, the focus is on everyone who touches your agency, not just individuals who interact with a customer service department. Not only that, but CX objectively measures a customer’s entire experience, rather than subjectively assessing the quality of a specific encounter with your agency.
“If you look over the last 20 years at the various executive orders that have come out, it’s all been related to customer service rather than customer experience.” Lewan said. That’s gradually shifting, he said, highlighting the naming convention of the new Federal Agency Customer Experience Act of 2017. As the shift continues, agencies can begin adopting CX best practices now. In the next section, we review seven best practices prescribed by ForeSee that agencies can follow to improve their CX strategy and focus on outcomes that save money and improve the experience. ForeSee highlights the differences between customer experience and customer service. Customer Service
A POINT OF CONTACT
SINGLE POINT IN TIME
SUM OF ALL INTERACTIONS
Best Practices 7 Ways to Improve Your CX Strategy
1 Identify and understand who your customers are. Your agency serves a wide variety of people who live in different geographic regions, have different needs, and require various levels of assistance. “We have to understand who those customers are and present information in clear language so it can be consumed by different types of visitors,” Lewan said. Agency leaders need to know if visitors are internal, external, and how frequently they interact with the organization. What are visitors’ intentions? Lewan encouraged agency leaders to diagnose strengths, weaknesses, and opportunities in each audience segment by building
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personas, and he also noted that “delivering a great customer experience doesn’t happen with a one-sizefits-all approach.”
2 Actively listen to customers. This is a best practice that should extend beyond your call center to the various interactions between your agency and the people you serve. For example, you may get feedback from website visitors, but are you following up when they don’t receive the experience they expected? Contacting customers directly if they’ve had a bad experience can give you a deeper understanding of what went wrong — and how to fix it.
3 Measure. The mantra of Total Quality Management
(TQM), as often referenced by ForeSee, is you cannot manage what you do not measure. ForeSee stands by these words, too. It’s important to integrate both quantitative and qualitative data, and measure performance against goals and objectives. We can’t just look at the satisfaction of an experience. Rather, agency leaders need to understand which desired agency outcomes are driven by satisfaction, and what’s driving satisfaction. When done right, leaders can prioritize the investment of their limited time, money and resources. Specific to the scales used to measure the customer experience, Lewan suggested that government have a common yardstick when it comes to measurement. “An application process at the VA [Veterans Affairs Department] may get a six out of 10. An experience with Health and Human Services Department may produce a four out five, while an experience with Treasury’s mobile app might get a 72! If government moves to make significant strides toward a common index, performance metrics could be clearer for both bureaucrats and taxpayers.” Many processes in government can start offline and end online or vice versa. But the siloed nature of government agencies and programs makes it difficult to find what they’re looking for. Agency leaders need to understand the entire customer journey — end-to-end. “Citizens are multi-channel, multi-device consumers,” Lewan said. “We tend to throw the term ‘omnichannel’ around without realizing the simple definition is, citizens/ customers interact with your organization the way they want to — seamlessly. It’s not easy to do, but it’s definitely the objective we should all strive for.”
4 Analyze employee engagement. When it comes to
optimizing the customer experience, employees play a critical role, and an engaged employee population will help drive desired organizational outcomes. ForeSee defines employee engagement as the emotional commitment one has to his or her organization and its goals. Lewan highlighted a quote from the author Simon Sinek that summarizes the importance of employee engagement: “Customers will never love the organization until the employees love it first.”
Lewan added that agencies should “learn what is driving employee engagement and proactively seek input from customer service reps and frontline managers.”
5 Redefine customer service standards. “Success
requires definition,” Lewan explained. “It’s not enough to just set standards from an organizational perspective, such as call time, time on page or page views. We need to integrate attitudinal and observational inputs with behavioral metrics and standards to clearly understand how agencies are meeting objectives.” Managing expectations with agency customers will also “buy time and create a cushion” with customers, Lewan noted. “Departments, agencies and programs have limited time, money and resources, so setting expectations and even publishing current and future optimal standards will go a long way for both customers and government.
6 Gain stakeholder adoption. If you want to get
everyone on the same page to improve the customer experience, bridge the gap between senior leaders and those who interact with CX data regularly. Ultimately, you want leaders to understand the data and use it to drive business decisions. Assign a CX Champion, an individual or group charged with gathering stakeholder input, documenting and illustrating customer journeys and other processes, holding education sessions with stakeholders and leaders, refining key performance indicators and more.
7 Convert insights into actions. Plan your work and work your plan. Identify and prioritize key segments and opportunities. Co-create and communicate a proposed strategy, and note that rolling out a successful customer experience strategy takes optimum teamwork. “CX implementation takes a village: assembling a team, creating task forces when necessary, developing a shared vision of success and communicating results,” Lewan said. “Then, after gaining momentum, go bigger, broader and longerterm. Your customers will thank you.”
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Customer Experience Standouts U.S. Patent and Trademark Office
Arlington National Cemetery
The U.S. Patent and Trademark Office’s flagship website, USPTO.gov, sees millions of pageviews per month. An increasing number of new website visitors don’t have lawyers to help them navigate the trademark and patent journey, so they’re left to decipher the complex process and legal jargon on their own.
Arlington National Cemetery (ANC) conducts an average of 30 burials each weekday and up to 10 burials every Saturday, according to a recent post on its Facebook page. There are currently fewer than 106,000 burial spaces remaining, and the cemetery says it will reach capacity in the next 25 years.
Because customers couldn’t easily find what they needed, that burden transferred to the agency in the form of call center volume. A large number of USPTO support center calls came from people who visited the website first but couldn’t find what they needed, such as basic questions about whether they needed a patent at all, if so what kind, and what forms to use and where to find them. As part of its strategy to improve the citizen experience, the agency reviewed its customer data across channels and gathered insights to identify what information, forms, and features would be most helpful to its website visitors. The considerations led to an improved version of USPTO.gov that uses clear language and includes resources designed for those who are new to the patent and trademark process. The investments in the website contributed to a significant decrease in call center volume.
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As it faces very limited burial space, ANC is turning to the community for input on how to respond. The cemetery uses CX measurement tools to gather insights that will help shape its future. It also prioritizes getting feedback from families throughout the extensive burial process, which can be long from initial request, to the service itself, and finally to the placement of a headstone. Measuring and analyzing feedback has helped ANC calibrate some of its processes and communications to better manage the experience and improve its service to families.
How ForeSee Helps Achieve the Mission Government and private companies alike struggle to make sense of massive amounts of internal customer data. Add to that the challenge of serving customers across new and existing channels, and tracking various technologies and partners who help to manage CX. ForeSee CX Suite was designed to help agencies manage their CX intelligence needs from one place, in response to these growing demands. “It’s a platform designed for each individual within an organization, including executives, managers and analysts,” Lewan said. “Anyone can access data about different touchpoints, channels, information, tools, and applications, which can be used specifically to capture feedback about the overall experience.”
Government agencies that are successful in carrying out their missions make CX a priority. They value feedback from customers, both internal and external, who interact with their systems — from websites to call centers to field office representatives, and beyond.
ForeSee is often associated with measuring digital assets for government and industry websites, which is understandable given the company’s storied track record in the sector. Over the past 15 years, ForeSee has collected more than 250 million surveys, and its rigorous measurement methodology has become the gold standard in government. ForSee’s predictive analytics helps public sector organizations to understand satisfaction from a citizen’s perspective — regardless of whether they engage online, in person or on the phone.
“It’s paramount to make sure that you’re understanding your customer’s journey,” Lewan said. “Does it align with your process? Does it align with your mission, and how do you measure the different steps when people traverse those channels?”
ForeSee is a recognized leader in Voice of Customer (VOC) solutions, helping 90% of US government Executive Branch Departments — including EPA, FDA, NASA, and National Park Services — give certainty to their CX initiatives. Only ForeSee offers a rigorous scientific approach to customer experience measurement, access to an unmatched 220 million benchmarked experiences, and actionable insights from a team of expert analysts. The award-winning ForeSee CX Suite helps more than 2,000 organizations worldwide transform their VOC programs into a strategic business discipline that delivers economic impact. ForeSee is headquartered in Ann Arbor, MI and has offices in Washington, DC; New York; St. Louis; Cleveland; San Francisco; Vancouver; and London.
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 cross- government 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, visit www.foresee.com.
These agencies understand that CX isn’t just good for citizens, it’s good for business. When government invests in customer-centered processes, it inevitably reaps the benefits in several ways, including cost savings and efficiency improvements, leaving more time to take on higher-level tasks because citizens can easily serve themselves across different channels.
As agencies strive to better serve customers across multiple channels, the key is to actively listen and understand what they need, then use CX data to prioritize investments in capabilities that will exceed their expectations. Learn more here.
For more information about this report, please reach out to email@example.com.
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