To ensure citizens get the help they need, the government must follow business example and put their customer experience first.
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4 min read
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Most people do not associate customer experience (CX) with government services. Instead, they are confronted with visions of long lines, unenthusiastic or overworked service staff, and an almost endless trail of bureaucratic bureaucracy. Given that the money is expected to flow into the public sector in the coming years, both due to a newly elected presidential administration and an attempt to get the country out of a Covid-triggered recession, there is a ripe opportunity to see CX advances in bring the public sector.
Related Topics: 4 Ways To Use AI To Improve Customer Experience
Paradigm Shift for the Government Sector
New administrations, whether Democrats or Republicans, have historically different priorities in terms of where to spend money. Services could include social assistance programs, housing benefits, or increased defense and infrastructure spending, among others. The common thread between administrations is the need to secure funding for the programs and people they are intended to serve.
Services are not very good when they are inaccessible. Public sector services and administrations are known to be difficult to navigate. They consist of different agencies that have no integrated systems, websites with old links or completely contradicting information about who qualifies for what.
All of this means that improving the CX will require a significant paradigm shift for the government sector. Public sector authorities face challenges that private sector companies do not. In particular, public sector agencies tend to be understaffed and often serve a large segment of the population with no incentive to make a profit. These limitations are not suitable for the government to achieve lightning fast processing speeds or perfect efficiency. The time has come for a systems overhaul – including government agencies using private sector technology for the common good.
Areas of growth
Even so, there are some specific areas that are particularly poised to make huge improvements with private sector technology. Improving these areas could significantly improve the average user experience that qualifies and receives government services.
In recent years, commercial providers have developed a variety of economical and secure software and cloud-based service options. The ability for the government to outsource certain CX functions to these vendors eliminates the need for the government to cling to legacy systems or “paper-based” application requirements. When properly implemented, these partnerships can also reduce fraud, waste and abuse in government programs.
Authorization and identity verification
Determining eligibility has been a major challenge for the public, who often have to deal with conflicting information and multiple agencies to submit their requests. This could be a thing of the past as companies like TransUnion and others create more robust online profiles for almost everyone in the country. Online identity verification is getting more secure every year. This data could be used to determine a person's eligibility with almost no need to involve them beyond entering basic information – and with much greater precision.
Another possibility for improvement is the general application process. For health reasons, it is understandable that customers do not want to venture into a physical location and agencies do not want to endanger their employees. Instead of just closing their buildings, much of the application process can be done virtually or remotely. Not only does this keep people from exposing each other to potential viruses, but it also improves the CX as people can fill out an application from the comfort of their own home.
Government websites can be difficult to navigate. They are often filled with bad links and old or incorrect contact information. Users can find it extremely frustrating trying to find the information they need and often just give up instead.
This is the third area for significant improvement. New advances in artificial intelligence can make it easier to store, organize, and access data efficiently. All of this means that the average user can access the information they need in an app or system optimized for mobile devices. This is a potential enabler for agencies with too few resources and too many clients.
Related: Foreign state hackers reportedly violated the US Treasury Department
Solutions for everyone
There are many other ways for CX to significantly improve government services, but these three are particularly problematic today. These are just a few of the steps government agencies can take to offer their services to the millions of Americans who really need them.