Evolving the customer experience through artificial intelligence
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Evolving the customer experience through artificial intelligence

January 31, 2024

Artificial intelligence is walking the runway into our government and taking center stage in Congress, which held more than 40 AI-related hearings in the last year alone, according to Politico.  

AI represents an opportunity for agencies to transform the way they interact with and engage the public–and doing so requires a careful blend of AI and key customer experience principles.

But will agencies be up to the task? The Partnership spells out how they can rise to the occasion in our recent statement to the Senate Committee on Homeland Security and Governmental Affairs.  

Defining the customer experience 

The customer experience, or CX, is not the same as customer service, which is the direct and immediate interaction between a customer and a service provider, focused on addressing questions and resolving issues promptly.  

Rather, CX is a broader concept that reflects the journey, or the sum of all interactions, the customer has with an organization, and seeks to deliver sustained customer satisfaction and foster long-term engagement.  

Fusing the customer experience and artificial intelligence 

CX is the bigger picture, and AI can drastically transform it, but only if federal leaders collaboratively and continuously innovate. Four actions would enable this innovation.  

First, the federal government must establish strong governance structures from the start of the AI/CX journey. If those in charge of CX, AI, data or information positions aren’t empowered to lead and work collaboratively across the enterprise, then there will be little progress on these issues. Federal agencies and their offices all too often work in silos. However, the same doesn’t have to be true for AI and CX.  

Second, chief AI officers, currently being created per President Biden’s recent executive order, must have the requisite skills and accountability mechanisms to enable successful AI adoption and thoughtful, human-centered design CX efforts.  

These leaders must view AI and CX together and use existing governance structures, such as IT governance boards, to foster a collaborative environment and convene AI and CX stakeholders. 

Third, with proper governance structures and guardrails in place, Congress and agencies must encourage strategic innovation and managed risk-taking to realize the potential impact of fusing AI and CX. Agencies can assess the risks and benefits of AI experimentation, and collect needed data, by permitting thoughtful pilot efforts aimed at future widespread use, but they need support to do so.  

Several government programs unrelated to federal AI or CX have developed spaces of innovation that can serve as templates for AI/CX evolution. The Department of Homeland Security’s Procurement Innovation Lab, for instance, provides a safe and collaborative space to test procurement solutions, which lay the groundwork for further innovation and can lead to millions in savings. There should be similar setups and cross-governmental opportunities for agencies to work collaboratively to build new tools and scale AI and CX work.  

Finally, at the base of the AI/CX journey, is the hiring infrastructure needed to build a workforce capable of implementing this work. Congress and agencies need to bolster federal HR offices, so they have the capacity and skills to be consulting partners in the work to bring on CX and AI talent. 

The future of AI and CX is coming sooner than many think, but the federal government has much to do ahead of its arrival. Setting foundational pieces like well-equipped HR offices, proper governance structures and fostering innovative environments is a good start. 

Learn more about the Partnership’s work around the customer experience and AI in government.

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