We the Partnership

How mission-support leaders can improve the internal customer experience

By Elizabeth Byers
May 26, 2021 | Updated on June 1, 2021

Mission-support services such as human resources, information technology, procurement and financial management, provide federal employees with the tools to work effectively. The Partnership and Medallia’s recent “Behind the Scenes” report found that when leaders focus on the customer experience employees have with mission-support services—or the internal customer experience—they enhance federal agencies’ ability to carry out their missions.

But what does it mean to focus on the internal customer experience, and how can mission-support leaders do so? “Behind the Scenes” offers five recommendations for making mission-support services more focused on their internal customers:

  1. Understand customer needs and perceptions. Mission-support leaders must understand their customers’ needs and then evaluate whether services meet those needs. Leaders should use a variety of research techniques—such as surveys, focus groups and one-on-one conversations—to build a complete and detailed picture of their customers’ needs and experiences. These leaders should also use this research to determine how different customer segments—for example, headquarters or field staff—experience various mission-support services and how different experiences may affect those employees.
  2. Create a customer experience vision and strategy. When improving the internal customer experience, it’s important for mission-support leaders to have a well-defined vision for success. They should clearly define what a good experience looks like for the federal employees they serve, and develop a strategy to create that experience. An effective strategy should link to the agency’s broader strategic plan and make evident how customer-focused services will support the overall mission.
  3. Build a customer-focused workforce and culture. Providing a good internal customer experience starts with the workforce that provides that support for the mission. Recognizing staff members who create a good experience will help create momentum for making customer-focused service a top priority across the agency. Leaders can also help set mission-support employees up for success by providing them with professional development opportunities focused on building better customer experience skills.
  4. Design customer-focused solutions. Soliciting employee input when designing programs and policies helps guarantee those programs and policies will be customer-focused from the start. Leaders should offer federal agency customers a seat at the table when creating or adjusting services and make sure to consider “impact on customers” when making key decisions.
  5. Measure and evaluate the customer experience to inform continual improvement. Improving the internal customer experience with support services is not a one-off. Mission-support leaders should make it an ongoing practice to solicit multiple forms of customer feedback and use that feedback to improve services and provide customers with a better experience going forward.

Read “Behind the Scenes” for more recommendations on how to create customer-focused mission-support services, and for examples of how agencies have put these principles into action.


Elizabeth Byers

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