Accelerating the Government Constituent Experience: A Closer Look at the Importance, Trends, and Challenges of CX
Each time a constituent interacts with a service, product, or company there is an opportunity to determine and influence their perception, creating a constituent experience. The constituent experience (CX) in government has become a priority in the current federal market in recent years. Bolstered by the 2021 Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery, CX will be a hot topic for the foreseeable future as government is being held responsible and accountable for how it brings its services to people across the country.
The purpose of the Executive Order is to improve the constituent experience and rebuild trust in the government. To enhance the CX, the Executive Order seeks to hold government agencies “accountable for designing and delivering services with a focus on the actual experience of the people whom it is meant to serve.” Additionally, the Executive Order outlines the need for government agencies to deliver services more equitably and effectively, particularly for those who have been historically underserved. Recently, the Federal News Network produced a podcast with CX industry leaders and executives to discuss the importance of CX, share thoughts on the digital first experience, and identify the trends and challenges facing CX.
The importance of improving the constituent experience
People interact with government offices and use technology in different ways and the ideal constituent experience should be easy, accessible, and equitable. Martha Dorris, Founder of Dorris Consulting International and former Deputy Associate Administrator for Citizen Services at the General Services Administration, said, “Any time customers interact, it’s a chance to set the perception of what they think of you and your organization. Improving the CX helps reach the underserved communities and makes people aware of the services. CX includes people, processes, and technology but it must have all three.”
Government agencies are poised to advance the constituent experience and bring messaging to people where they need it by transforming the way services are delivered, building connections with the public, and improving communications between agencies. Granicus Vice President Angy Peterson states, “CX is about trust. Trust can be built through transparency and transparency can be built through meaningful communication. [We need to] understand where people are, what their preferred method of communication is, and think about barriers and how to better reach people through communications. A little communication goes a long way in building trust.”
Every government agency must determine how to best improve the constituent experience through their own internal processes, while also communicating with other agencies and the public. Chief Taxpayer Experience Officer at the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) Ken Corbin outlined the agency’s taxpayer experience roadmap to build connections with people and expand choice and access. In describing the roadmap Corbin notes, “Integration is key. [We realized] a lot of connections needed to be built in our own agency to change the culture and build bridges.” Though the roadmap was developed by the IRS, it is applicable to other agencies; it includes:
- Expanding digital services
- Seamless experience
- Proactive outreach and education
- Establishing community of partners
- Focusing on the underserved community
- Establishing foundational trust
“Over a lifetime of interacting with government agencies, these experiences are powerful,” says Corbin. “CX is more important than ever as expectations have changed and raised the bar for customer interaction. CX is not just about customer service but about the whole experience of interaction and how we listen to what they are trying to tell us.”
Implementing the digital-first constituent experience
Engaging with a company’s full range of digital channels, known as a digital-first experience, allows constituents to attain information from a website, interact with a chatbot, engage with social media channels, or use any other applications the organization offers. This requires coordination and collaboration to deliver a consistent constituent experience. As Dorris notes, “We need to think about creating an omnichannel experience and not have [the constituent] start over when they change channels. There is a criticality of a good knowledge management system to deliver a consistent experience – whether it’s visiting the website or calling or chatting with a bot, it’s important to make it consistent. There is also a need for collaboration across the C-suite to ensure services are being delivered where people want them.”
There is also a need for proactive, personalized communications to increase awareness and create an effective digital-first constituent experience. Peterson says, “What good is modernization if people don’t know about it? [We need to] think about it as education, engagement, and enrollment. Investing in communications in a broad way to build awareness is important and there is an opportunity for tailored, personalized messages.”
Constituent experience trends and challenges in the federal space
The focus on improving the constituent experience in government will continue to be a priority in government. Modernizing processes and forms will be key in improving the constituent experience, as will delivering services in the method people prefer. Additionally, recognizing diversity and providing tools in different languages to serve as many communities as possible — including hard-to-reach populations — will be imperative to improving the government constituent experience.
Improving the constituent experience is an important and multi-layered initiative and like most initiatives of this kind, it is not without its challenges. Among the top challenges in accelerating the constituent experience is data integration. Peterson notes, “Data integration is a challenge not just internally within agencies but in sharing between agencies. A lot of collaboration is needed to do that.” Additionally, government agencies might find it challenging to establish sustainability across administrations when it comes to constituent experience engagement. Dorris states, “We need legislation to ensure this [work] is continued from now on.”
Digital solutions to manage changing constituent expectations
Constituents expect to have seamless digital experiences no matter where they are, and this also applies to interacting with the government. With digital solutions from Granicus, government agencies can improve constituent experience through personalized, consistent digital engagement tools. To learn more about how Granicus is helping to accelerate the government CX and modernize the digital journey, schedule a demo.