When in-person offices shuttered and employees scattered to their homes to work remotely in the spring of 2020, it became clear that many long-standing models of citizen engagement wouldn’t work in this new environment. After spending decades focused on delivering compassionate in-person citizen experiences, a lack of remote infrastructure made it difficult for public sector employees to replicate these experiences in a decentralized, digital world.
Ad-hoc technology solutions saved the day in 2020 and 2021, but they haven’t been able to keep pace with a changing public service environment. More than one year later, in the fall of 2021, many federal agencies still remained behind. The Washington Post reported nearly 500,000 immigrants still awaited visa application interviews, passport wait times averaged 16 weeks, and thousands of social security benefits had yet to be processed due to pandemic-related surges in unemployment.
Through no fault of their own, government agencies find themselves dealing with a confluence of pressing issues all at once including:
- How to align with new mandates around digital citizen experiences
- How to retain employees and build a future-focused employee journey that will meet their needs
- How to transform remote workspaces to improve performance and efficiency
- How to re-engage citizens in their preferred channels
- How to reimagine citizen journeys to make them more personalized and effective
All of these initiatives took on added urgency in December when President Biden’s executive order, Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government, specifically mandated CX investments and improvements for more than 30 different agencies and bureaus.
With this in mind, let’s a take a closer look at a few pivotal trends and examine how government agencies can begin building out long-term experience transformations that align their business processes with people-first strategies.
Retention and acquisition strategies must start with a renewed sense of purpose
The pandemic became a time of self-reflection for many in the working world. Stripped of the office environment, a commute, and in-person coworkers, employees re-evaluated their top priorities and expectations for their working lives. According to one McKinsey survey, nearly two-thirds of US-based employees reflected on their purpose during the early days of pandemic. Among younger demographics, this desire to work in a career with purpose became even more pronounced.
For government organizations, this trend presents the perfect time to double down on purpose-driven missions and values, especially as the federal workforce continues to age into retirement. Federal agencies are gifted with tremendous stories to tell about helping citizens live more fulfilling lives, and this is a powerful selling point they can leverage as they work to bring in talent in 2022. But these agencies must go one step deeper—living out their missions in the way they support both their employees and the public. Retention strategies like investing in professional training, new work benefits, and technologies that empower employees to create a better work-life balance are all great places to start. The right approach is different for every organization, but starting with a deeper understanding of your employee journey—from onboarding to daily workflows—can help uncover gaps where your mission and your current culture don’t align.
Remote work is here to stay—it’s time to invest for the long-haul
Forrester predicts that about one-third of global civil servants will become permanent hybrid workers. In a memo to government agencies in November 2021, the Office of Personnel Management (OPM) acknowledged this preference by encouraging agency leaders to develop strategies that would make telework a permanent addition to their workflows. Beyond the obvious retention advantages this will create, it also provides a valuable opportunity to realize new efficiency and performance benefits.
As a starting place, assess your existing productivity solutions and consider upgrading to integrated cloud environments where possible to bolster remote team collaboration. Some federal offices, such as the U.S. Patent and Trademark Office, have already taken these steps and seen dramatic improvement in employee satisfaction and productivity. Not only does this boost employee performance and workplace satisfaction, but it also helps achieve your bottom-line goal: delivering high-value citizen experiences at every interaction.
Digital investments will need to consider new CX design mandates
Last best experience is a concept we use at Avtex to describe the ever-evolving nature of customer and citizen expectations. Today, we most often see last best experiences play out through omnichannel eCommerce experiences that bring the digital and physical worlds together. But we’re now seeing the federal government take steps to replicate these experiences in the public sector through CX mandates, including the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act. Unfortunately, 80% of government organizations are still in the initial stages of developing mature digital strategies and don’t currently have the ability to make their web services secure, connected, searchable, consistent, responsive, among other requirements.
If this sounds like your organization, a journey-mapping exercise is likely the best place to start. Before you can automate service processes and build out intelligent IVR systems, you need to have a baseline understanding of the ways in which your citizens wish to interact with you in each channel. Once armed with these insights, you can begin exploring the modern tools such as AI-enabled chat bots, automated messaging and data processing, and API integrations that would produce the strongest ROI.
Looking for more tips you can use to frame up a winning citizen experience strategy in 2022? Visit our CX trends microsite to get started.
Stronger data integration practices will enable more personalized experiences
While the trends we’ve covered thus far address the visible aspects of the citizen and employee experience, it’s important to remember data underlies all of them. Data siloes, privacy regulations, and a general lack of data transparency can make it incredibly difficult to deliver seamless omnichannel experiences or boost remote worker productivity.
When it comes to innovating your data practices there are a few technical features to prioritize including real-time data access, secure data management, and seamless data sharing. When a client relies on us to help streamline their data practices, one of the most common problems we see is a disjointed collection of data sources. Not only does this reduce the organization-wide impact this data can have, but it can also lead to security challenges and frustrating citizen experiences as well. Consider adopting a citizen data platform that unifies all your data sources and creates a singular location for your data. Providing data transparency and accessibility empowers your employees to deliver exceptional experiences at every point of interaction.
To prevent stop-start CX progress, pulse checks will become a vital tactic
Driven by a surge of new mandates and requirements currently governing federal CX initiatives, it’s clear the citizen experience will be a top priority in 2022. But the real key to unlocking citizen experiences that impress again and again will depend on the feedback loops government agencies install along the way.
Fortunately, many of these mandates account for this—calling for government-wide federal employee voice pulse surveys and customer feedback collection to measure improvement over time. Integrating both Voice of Customer (VoC) and Voice of Employee (VoE) programs are two ways to gather the feedback necessary to meet this objective. Secondarily, structuring your people, processes, and technology to use these insights as the foundation for continuous improvement is also vital.
As an expert in the design and orchestration of both of these types of programs, Avtex can help you capture this data and support it with the reporting processes to drive your organization forward. We’ve helped a number of government entities—from federal agencies to local municipalities—transform their citizen experience and build good habits that will help them deliver memorable experiences time and time again.