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How Shifting CX Philosophy Can Empower Agencies

For almost as long as there have been governments, people have complained about how difficult, time consuming, and often confusing it can be to take the steps to get things done with government. While time and technology have changed the tools in use over the centuries, many governments still struggle with providing positive experiences that empower the public to successfully accomplish tasks and goals.

A study by McKinsey reflects that reality, with 60 percent of residents surveyed stating that they experience some kind of problem when trying to interact with government. That same survey, however, gives a hint to how governments can overcome that problem, with 54 percent of those residents surveyed expecting greater, and easier, access to services online.

Federal agencies have been tasked with addressing this issue by an executive order that went into effect at the end of 2021. Over the last year, government has been seeking ways to take greater accountability for designing and delivering services with a focus on the actual experience of the people whom it is meant to serve. In doing so, they are working to deliver services more equitably and effectively, especially for those who have been historically underserved.

That shift also impacts the way that technology can empower agency staff, and agencies are ready to make the change. Data gathered by Granicus showed that 82 percent of government workers sought more technologically advanced capabilities in their organization after returning from the COVID pandemic. What can agencies due to leverage this opportunity for change and ensure highly skilled government workers with the right technology they need to best do their job? Beyond that, what long-term impacts can come from empowering staff with the right technology?

Better service, higher morale

Running into the common roadblocks that come with outdated technology doesn’t just frustrate the public that gets stuck in inefficient processes, it also impacts the staff that must deal with the fallout. Dissatisfied users are twice as likely to reach out for help in a process three or more times, either by phone or email. This dissatisfaction can come from something as simple as being on hold too long during a phone call to more structural concerns, such as not being able to find vital information on an agency website.

When already facing tight resources, government agency staff often get pulled away from their assigned work to deal with these issues, many of which are related to tasks that users should be able to complete on their own. When more of staff time is spent on solving procedural problems than the work at the heart of the agency’s mission, that burden can drain employee morale.

Not only can improved service improve staff morale (often by as much as 50 percent), it can also help increase trust in the agency. Satisfied customers are nine times more likely to trust the organization providing that service, leaving staff to wonder the impact on trust when processes are inconvenient.

The power of people

While technology provides the tools to create better CX for the public, the human element behind that technology is equally vital. However, in an efficient agency, staff isn’t dedicated to solving problems. Rather, taking the time to develop staff skills, mindset, and empowering problem solving from a user’s perspective can provide a backbone to positive overall CX.

Some easy ways to make this shift in an agency include:

  • Taking a user-, or human-, centered approach by better understanding the user when making decisions regarding operations, policy, content, or design.
  • Prioritizing outcomes over outputs. Working with program managers to clarify a focus on the intended user outcome rather than the features and functions of the process.
  • Considering the constituent journey at all stages. Most users do not understand how government does business. Making sure to keep the public’s needs at the front of mind will lead to such important steps as using plain language and clear instructions, efficient procedural steps, providing access from any device, and engagement that encourages participation and feedback.

Build with failure in mind

Staff expertise and planning come together best when agencies invest in a dedicated approach to building processes that drive better outcomes. Taking a “user-out” perspective shifts the traditional approach of developing processes from a policy or operational approach to shift to one centered on outcomes.

Leveraging data from current processes provides a critical component for a successful transition, most notably when it comes to fail points, the moments along a process where a user would abandon the process, or it “fails” for some reason. Common fail points include a procedure that requires a driver’s license, but a user only has a state-issued ID card, leading to the user not being able to continue the process.

By gathering data from throughout the customer journey, staff can not only make sure that they understand where processes are failing, but they will also be able to better identify where and why people may be disengaging from the enrollment process. Failure can be technical, but it can also come from unclear instructions or complicated steps that require offline actions. Understanding these barriers provide an opportunity to address procedures and make them more efficient, as discussed in this guide.

Equally important, data around failure in current processes can provide the basis of a roadmap for more efficient use of tools. While failures uncover issues that are preventing a user from accomplishing their intended outcomes, which can be addressed by some of the design suggestions mentioned previously, that same data provides agencies with a vision of inefficient, and frequently expensive, tools that may be hindering the intended outcomes of a process. Identifying and taking action on these chokepoints can not only impact the digital experience for users, but help agencies maximize technology investments.

Building a culture of empowerment

Understanding why building positive CX in government processes is important, and developing the bedrock philosophical shifts to succeed in those changes can change the way that the public deals with federal agencies online. At the same time, empowering staff to leverage their skills and expertise to develop processes that allow for self-service not only creates a culture of enablement internally, it helps better allocate resources and staff time to the goals of the agency.

Learn more about how agencies can remove the barriers in their digital CX and empower change in this recent Granicus webinar!