Public sector CX: Why improving CX matters
There is often an unfair perception that the public sector doesn’t prioritize customer experience (CX). Even in the animated film, “Zootopia,” government employees are portrayed as lovable, but slow-moving, sloths. While the movie offers a humorous take on the public sector, forward-thinking executives and agency leaders know that improving CX is no laughing matter. In fact, it is well-known that organizations investing in CX see an increase in brand loyalty, which results in long-term profitability, and a higher increase in customer satisfaction. So, the question is, why do government agencies seem to lack in the CX department?
In the United States, government agencies routinely score lower in customer satisfaction than their private-sector counterparts. It’s par for the course across the world. However, Florida’s public sector only stands to benefit from improving CX—doing so increases citizen engagement, agency compliance, and ultimately, makes it easier to fulfill the mission that drives organization. And frankly, ignoring CX in the public sector invites unwelcome scrutiny, hinders executive progress, and can even impact legislation.
Improving CX in a government agency can be as simple as implementing a 24/7 online virtual help desk and online chat bots, which are able to predict customers’ questions to provide quick answers. Not only does this increase customer’s accessibility to important information—such as the hours for a certain department or the office locations of local officials—but also limits the vast amount of phone calls employees receive and, therefore, the “on hold” waiting times that customers have to endure. This is especially crucial during busy times of the year or during an unprecedented influx on call-in activity, similar to what the Florida Department of Economic Opportunity experienced after receiving more than 130,000 calls in one week - a result of the increase in unemployment – amounting to 28,000 more calls than the week before.
Digitizing paperwork also provides easy accessibility and convenience. Many times, customers find themselves waiting in line at facilities for hours to file important paperwork only to realize that they are missing key documentations needed to fill-out the requested information. Providing digital access to paperwork from home ensures that important documents are readily available to customers when they need it, improving efficiency for them and the workers, alike.
Recent reports have been addressing the significant concerns that Florida’s state employees have over the lack in telecommuting preparedness during crisis situations. In times when organizations are forced to close their facilities, such as during a global pandemic, administering a reliable teleworking software and overall strategy can assist agencies in deploying call to action by jumping through logistical hurdles and providing a collaborative space for employees. In return this will help employees maintain and provide efficient CX while working remotely.
Prioritizing CX can make a major difference in organizations. Recently, the Florida Division of Emergency Management relaunched their website, resulting in improvements that made it easier for citizens to find resources at critical times. For other state agencies, the question isn’t, “Should you improve your CX?” Instead, it’s “How do you start?” A holistic CX strategy combined with the right technology can increase customer and employee satisfaction and provide much-appreciated efficiency in the process.
The mission of each public sector agency varies, but the customer remains constant. Whether they are taxpayers, students or travelers, creating a stronger connection between work and experience is critical for multiple reasons. Consider these three benefits from improving CX:
Powerful advocacy. Public and private sector customers are not all that different. They want a great experience—and when they have one, they tell others about it. For government agencies with a distinct mission, this type of referral and recognition is critical because it keeps people coming back and allows agencies to serve even more citizens. The mitigating factor here: staff time. Digital solutions will allow to automate processes and do more with less. By reducing the manual workload, staff can devote more time to the actual work—from managing client caseloads to helping people navigate permits. The natural outcome is a better experience for customers, which translates to organic advocacy from external and internal constituents.
Expanded reach. The resources of most agencies go far beyond what many citizens imagine. There are little-known grant programs, special projects, and committees devoted to specific concerns. A strategic focus on customer experience modernizes these resources and ensures that they are easy to find and access. For instance, the aforementioned CX improvements to the Florida Division of Emergency Management includes portals for disaster-specific information and a mobile-friendly website. A few useful resource implementations and improvements made to the website include the following:
- Full, strategic wireframes and designs that provides a personalized, user-focused experience based on the department’s state of emergency
- The integration of multiple programs and partner databases, which provide users with real-time updates and alerts from a variety of trusted sources
- Implementation of a hazard learning center, providing users with the information they need to prepare and stay safe in less-than-optimal situations
- Sitewide search with quick links to common site destinations, which gives easy access to content when users need it most
Improved compliance. A better CX makes compliance easier for businesses, individuals and agencies. Not only are the resources readily available, but the processes are also streamlined and easy to complete. Taxes provide an ideal example. The right digital tools can align the mission of the state agencies toward receiving their tax-based revenue while ensuring that businesses and consumers can complete the transaction with as little friction as possible.
For government customers, providing a quality experience is not a nice-to-have—it is a must-have. Not only do customers benefit from CX solutions—such as a digital chat bot that easily provides them with answers at any time of the day, or an easy-to-maneuver website, providing them with important, emergency information and digital paperwork—but so do the government agencies that make it a priority to invest in their customers. Not only do these agencies achieve greater efficiency by streamlining their resources and communication but also a better understanding of their customer’s needs, resulting in a higher customer satisfaction.