POSTED : August 11, 2015
BY : PK

Call it a fad. Call it a shift in the natural order. But don’t call it sticking with the status quo: Government is reimagining services to improve the customer experience. Although we typically identify “customers” with the retail industry, Mark Johnson of Loyalty360 notes “the term ‘customer’ can usually be appropriated to mean ‘constituent.’” As retailers offer goods and services, government agencies provide the same – both of which must be efficient, accurate, and pleasant to keep customers/constituents coming back for more. Unlike retailers fighting for market share, government has historically held a monopoly on goods or services. As a result, government has not had to provide exceptional service because constituents simply had no alternative. Today, with greater civic involvement and constant access to social media, governments are being held more accountable and making the shift toward improving the customer experience.

Take the State of Maine for example. In his article “The State of Maine Integrates Customer Experience Technology to Improve Efficiency,” Johnson describes how Maine is taking a business approach to increase constituent (customer) satisfaction. Maine recognized that the inefficiencies caused by its legacy IT systems and paper-based workflows would trickle down to constituents, causing an unpleasant experience and more back-end work. If State employees could not engage in a smooth, efficient process, how could they deliver the same high quality service to their constituents?

Taking a savvy retail perspective, Maine began improvements with their internal customers – their employees. What Maine understood, where many organizations fail, is that a customer’s experience is often the byproduct of the company’s internal, organizational structure. By prioritizing internal org structure and efficiencies, Maine was able to drive a more positive internal and external customer experience. In addition to new cloud-based databases, Maine focused on connecting with employees by their preferred method – mobile device – an insight gleaned from an employee survey. By improving the method of communication, the State increased transparency, reduced siloes, and mitigated the reliance on paper-based systems.

Governments are prioritizing this shift to the constituent experience to:

  • Increase efficiency
  • Reduce costs
  • Drive smooth, timely, reliable interactions/service
  • Improve the goods and services they provide to their constituents and their voting base

By making processes such as voting and paying taxes more easily accessible, citizens will have a more positive experience, access more government services, reduce agencies’ workloads, and likely engage more frequently with their governments.

Recommendations
So you want to improve constituent experience? Here are a few key points to consider:

  1. Focus on the areas that affect constituents the most. Where can they experience the biggest benefit? What will have the greatest positive impact on them? A journey map can help identify opportunities.
  2. Go beyond the website – make the move to mobile. More and more people are accessing services through their mobile devices – don’t miss an opportunity to meet them where they are.
  3. Encourage interaction during positive experiences. In the public sector, people access services mainly during negative experiences. Give them a reason to share a positive experience with their networks.
  4. Create a consistent experience across channels (in-person, online, mobile). Drive satisfaction with a consistent in-person, online and mobile experience.

Interested in learning more about customer experience? Check out our article on design thinking and customer experience.

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