President Joe Biden’s executive order on customer experience, issued last month, identified customer experience as a major update to government programs and to reduce the time and difficulty Americans have in obtaining government services.
Experts say work was already being done on CX across the federal government, but the White House’s interest has helped these efforts gain attention and set priorities.
Princess Boland, federal customer experience lead in the Office of Management and Budget, said at an event hosted Thursday by ACT-IAC that she and other Biden-Harris officials acknowledged during an internal call on the day the order was issued that the matter was not a “finish line” but it is. Definitely a refreshment station.”
“There are so many wonderful people that have been working on this for decades,” she added.
Now, the hope is that the executive order can unite disparate efforts to improve the experience of doing business with the federal government.
“These are not separate initiatives in isolation, but part of like, let’s bring them together to really amplify them and make them a priority for the government machine,” Poland said. She noted that the order integrates customer experience into “all the ways in which government operates,” from strategic planning to budgets.
Martha Doris, founder of Dorris Consulting International and a former employee of the Department of Public Services for more than 30 years, emphasized that the measurement framework and accountability measures laid out in the system set them apart from previous efforts to improve the customer experience in government.
“He puts it as a management priority, and then asks or encourages agencies to achieve priority agency goals, and puts it into the Senior Executive Service Performance Plans. That’s one way you’re going to get these things to flow into everyone’s plans and performance across the entire agency.”
Jonathan Cradin, head of the Customer Experience Branch, at the Cyber and Infrastructure Security Agency, said the executive order has more people “paying attention to the work we do” and has spurred momentum in getting the agency’s approval.
“It helped open some doors that might otherwise have been closed,” he said.
Ed Walters, chief customer officer for the General Services Administration, also echoed the point, saying more people are calling him for help.
At GSA, work is being done both internally and in relation to how GSA can support other agencies through centralized platforms and tools.
Walters said that a major public-facing aspect of driving customer experience is work in progress to make USA.gov a “front door” where citizens can access a variety of government services from that one location.
The plan is for the site to be organized around major events where citizens use government, such as having a baby. This strategy is also evident in the management agenda of management.
Walters said the GSA is also looking at how to provide a good customer experience for other agencies as clients. He said this was particularly relevant to the GSA’s digital footprint, which at its last count included 238 sites.
“Breathing the digital ecosystem definitely frustrates people,” he said. “But we have to make sure internally that agency clients don’t scroll through all the different websites.”
In terms of what comes next, a new OMB Notice will be published Thursday, outlining how OMB designers and staff can work across agencies on key life experiences of citizens who extend to agencies to collect data, which can in turn be used to improve service delivery. This is done as part of the customer experience efforts outlined in the management agenda.
OMB is collecting feedback on this process through March 15.
There is also the potential and the need for more legislation on customer experience issues, particularly when it comes to enabling flexibility for agencies working together in legal areas that overlap, Poland said.
It marked the Public Service Trust Act, which would establish a Chief Customer Experience Officer and establish customer experience as a standard for agency performance. Poland also referred to the federal agency’s Customer Experience Act, which requires agencies to obtain voluntary feedback on their services.
“Having access to in-house government talent who knows how to do good design work is really important, and that’s something I think Congress can support as well,” she said.