Beyond the Basics: Leading Practices for Improving Customer Experience in Government
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Beyond the Basics: Leading Practices for Improving Customer Experience in Government

October 12, 2017

The federal government is aiming at a moving target when it comes to improving customer experience. As many federal agencies make progress on delivering readily accessible, user-friendly services, the private sector continues to innovate and set expectations even higher.

With ongoing focus on strengthening citizen services from the Trump administration, following a similar effort during the Obama administration, federal agencies have taken important steps toward this goal. Many agencies use information they solicit from customer surveys and customer feedback tools to improve services. Agencies also are providing more options for citizens to interact with government online, including on their mobile devices. More than 40 percent of visits to federal government websites now come from mobile devices, according to General Services Administration data.

These efforts have led to some promising increases in satisfaction with government services. For example, the Transportation Security Administration’s score in Forrester’s Federal Customer Experience Index rose over the last two years. In 2017, its scores for customer service, respect and communication increasing by nine, eight and 14 points, respectively. The IRS’s score for digital services increased 16 points in Forrester’s 2017 index.

Despite some gains, customer satisfaction with government still lags almost all other industries and sectors, according to both Forrester and the American Customer Satisfaction Index. And steps that not long ago were considered to be innovative in government, such as bringing more services online, are quickly becoming commonplace. Astute federal leaders are now looking for more advanced customer experience practices to keep pace with rising citizen expectations.

This issue brief is part of a multiyear initiative by the Partnership for Public Service and Accenture Federal Services to help improve customer experience in government. It highlights three promising customer experience practices for government, which are fairly well-established in the private sector. They include doing rigorous, in-depth customer research; connecting customer interactions across service-delivery channels; and using online virtual assistants to quickly answer citizen questions.

This brief examines findings from federal agencies that have explored these strategies, and highlights challenges, lessons learned and results that can inform federal leaders as they seek innovative approaches to improving citizen services.

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