Government-Sector CX: How to Go from Cellar to Stellar

When it comes to customer experience (CX), the federal government has the dubious distinction of being at the bottom of the barrel, according to a raft of research studies conducted over many years. Here are some examples:

  1. Forrester Research's CX Reports, 2018 to 2023,  found that the federal government has been the lowest-performing sector six years in a row.
  2. McKinsey's State of States Benchmark 2022 found that customer satisfaction with the federal government was ranked at the very bottom in this survey of more than 78,000 consumers.
  3. Dimensional Research's State of Digital Customer Service Report 2020 found that the federal government was the lowest-performing sector in digital customer service; that its customer satisfaction dropped the most amid the pandemic; that it offered the fewest channel choices for digital customer service; and that 57 percent of consumers complained that they got different answers from different channels and contact center agents for the same question.
  4. Benchmark Portal's State of Agent Experience Report 2022 found that the federal government had the lowest score in cross-channel integration, with 62 percent of contact center agents saying that customer interactions are not all in one place; that it had the lowest score in cross-modal integration, with 70 percent of agents saying they cannot see the self-service interactions of citizens; and that it was next to last in the use of agent assistance tools such as conversational guidance.
  5. Forrester Research's survey on top customer service pain points 2015 found that the federal government had the worst performance in consistency of answers, with 57 percent of consumers saying so; and that 36 percent of consumers said that contact center agents simply did not know the answer. This is perhaps better than making up answers, which is how the previous problem sometimes arises.

So, what should federal agencies do to improve citizen service? Interestingly, many of the findings in items 3, 4, and 5 above lead to the poor performance outlined in items 1 and 2, offering a roadmap for government organizations to get on a path to moving the needle on CX and employee experience (EX) transformation. Here are some steps agencies should take:

Digitize the service.

Accelerated by millennial and Gen Z lifestyles and preferences and the lockdowns implemented in response to the COVID-19 pandemic, consumers have doubled down on digital. In fact, 80 percent said that they had increased their use of digital channels during the pandemic, and 90 percent of digital novices said they will remain digital, according to research by McKinsey and others. Moreover, today's digital citizens want to go beyond simply checking the status of their tax refunds to accomplishing more complex tasks, such as agent-assisted digital form-filling and online problem resolution, which can help them avoid the dreaded queues in local government offices. When they can't self-serve, they would look for answers through human-assisted digital channels, where they often live. This would require federal agencies to go beyond the basics to provide service through touchpoints like next-gen chatbots, messaging, live chat, co-browsing, social networks, in-app service, and proactive notifications.

Hub the conversations.

While self-service is getting increasingly smarter and more effective, there are still queries from digital-first citizens that require human assistance over digital channels like messaging, chat, and, if all else fails, over the phone or in person. If customer conversations are not all hubbed, or unified into a single desktop, customer service agents will not have complete context. They then wind up asking the consumer to repeat information, a big no-no for good CX.

Hub the knowledge.

The biggest deterrent to good CX is getting inconsistent answers across touchpoints and a lack of knowledge among customer service reps, according to a Forrester survey of more than 10,000 consumers, sponsored by eGain. As mentioned earlier, 57 percent of consumers point to this problem when it comes to government customer service. The cause is often inconsistent knowledge silos strewn across the organization. The solution is an omnichannel knowledge hub with content management, conversational and generative artificial intelligence, and analytics, all unified and orchestrated in one place. This approach will ensure that the knowledge—content, know-how, and insights—is correct, consumable, compliant, and consistent.

Select the right solution partner.

Technology matters as the world goes digital and embraces AI. So do best practices and domain expertise. Make sure you pick a partner whose technology is proven, who has had success at scale in the government sector, and who is FedRAMP-authorized. Does the vendor provide end-to-end services, including training/education, implementation, and managed services? Does it have a formalized customer success program? Does it offer risk-free production pilots, not just toy sandboxes, to try out its solutions with expert guidance, all free of charge in the pilot phase. Vendors' willingness to put real skin in the game shows their commitment to your success and confidence in their solutions.

Prioritizing digitalization, unifying conversations and knowledge with a hub approach, and working with a proven solution provider will enable government CX to go from cellar to stellar!

Anand Subramaniam is senior vice president of global marketing at eGain.