Recently, our colleagues on Government Technology Insider shared a unique set of insights on how government agencies, including the Department of Education, are focusing on customer-centricity. As well as meeting the requirements of the Executive Order on Customer Experience, the focus on customer-centricity will have additional benefits, including a higher rate of employee satisfaction and long-term contributions to mission success. Read on to learn more from agency and industry customer experience leaders.
Agencies are constantly challenged to meet customer expectations and deliver exceptional experiences. For federal agencies, transformative change requires strong leadership that understands customer-centricity and is committed to putting customers and employees at the center of decision-making to their needs. The following federal and industry leaders met at this year’s Government Customer Experience & Engagement Summit to discuss how leadership can influence the experience for customers and employees with cultural shifts.
- Abraham Marinez, Director of Product Design, Office of Federal Student Aid, U.S. Department of Education
- Nicole “Niki” French, Customer Service Branch Manager, Transportation Security Administration, U.S. Department of Homeland Security
- Steven Boberski, Public Sector Chief Technology Officer, Genesys
- Pam Van Meter, Principal CIAM Specialist, Okta
- Ron Vickery, Area VP, Customer & Industry Workflows, Government, Healthcare & Higher Education, ServiceNow
During their discussion, these customer experience (CX) and employee engagement leaders emphasized that an agency’s ability to execute its mission depends heavily on its workforce. Agency leaders must adopt a holistic approach to CX improvement, starting with the employees. Vickery explained that by treating employees as valued customers, agencies foster a positive and productive work environment that ultimately benefits external customers by empowering employees to deliver exceptional service.
To build a customer-focused culture, Marinez commented that leaders need to recognize that there is no one-size-fits-all approach to fostering a culture of innovation. While it may take time to innovate, it requires focusing on strategies that enhance the agency’s unique needs and priorities. A successful CX strategy requires that leadership acknowledges the importance of employees as customers and considers their feedback.
By understanding the constraints and priorities of various stakeholders, agencies can support security and customer-centricity. French highlighted the critical role played by employees in delivering outstanding CX and shared that, at TSA, the agency needs to balance security and the customer experience. “Our officers on the frontlines have to enforce rules,” explained French. “Sometimes that can come across more militant than we would like, but it’s important. We try to make sure that the officers are professional and polite and enforce what customer service means in the context of TSA and security.”
A cultural shift is happening at the agency with improved training to provide better service and security. The new guidance fosters a culture where employees feel valued and understand their role in both security and customer satisfaction. “The frontline also understands that they are a customer.” TSA aims to create a positive work environment that translates into better external customer experiences by considering employees as their primary customers.
Boberski explained that another way leaders within agencies can empower their workforce is through surveys and feedback. Building a culture where employees feel valued, and part of the mission will help motivate them to deliver their best to customers. Agencies can take advantage of analytics and journey mapping to understand customer needs. By combining quantitative and qualitative data, agencies can gain valuable insights into both employees’ and customers’ experiences. This data-driven approach ensures customers receive a seamless experience where employees can provide personalized and efficient support and feel that their voice has an impact and value, shared Van Meter.
To successfully effect change in an agency’s culture, employee satisfaction, and customer experience, leadership is key. By prioritizing employees as valuable customers and empowering them to deliver exceptional service, agencies and their workforce can positively affect the external customer experience. With the right leadership and focus on customer and employee needs, agencies can build a culture that empowers employees to innovate, enhances customer experiences, and supports the agency’s mission.
To learn more about how leaders can improve customer experience and value employees as customers, click here.