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INDUSTRY INSIGHT

How CX programs benefit more than the customer

Imagine a government agency whose wait times have been reduced, citizen complaints have declined and public-sector employees are equipped to provide quality customer service.  That future is happening now, thanks to today's customer feedback solutions.  

With the latest update to the Circular A-11 addressing customer experience and service delivery, the Office of Management and Budget is asking federal agencies to look beyond “what has to be done” to comply with regulations and instead focus on the real benefits of improving the citizen and employee experience.

Improving internal processes

Feedback from citizens on what is and isn’t working in the customers’ eyes gives agencies insight on addressing broken systems, helping to relieve many of the inefficiencies frontline employees witness firsthand. Solving these customer concerns ultimately improves employees' experiences as well, building confidence in agency leadership and improving retention rates as workers are no longer seeing the poor processes being repeated again and again. 

When the Department of Veteran Affairs started collecting feedback, it realized veterans first arriving at health centers were overwhelmed and didn’t know where to go. Based on this insight, the VA improved the veteran experience for patients at VA Central California Health Care through the Red Coat Ambassador program. Volunteers not only greet patients and families but assist with concierge services, orienting patients with clear directions and providing escorts, wheelchairs and assistance in loading and unloading curbside at the main entrance. This small change created a more pleasant visit for veterans as well as creating a positive volunteer and employee experience at the hospital. This issue may have gone completely unrecognized if feedback hadn’t been collected.

Improving CX can begin with asking employees what frustrations they experience in their work or what concerns customers bring to them. Employees are nearly five times more likely to feel empowered to perform their best work when they’re being heard, so while traditional CX programs are often implemented with the customer in mind, don’t discount employee feedback.

When agencies enable their employees to gather feedback from citizens, it builds internal trust and helps employees align with the overall mission. A feeling of being on the “same team” is instilled in the workers, empowering them to take ownership of certain aspects of the CX program to meet the agency’s broader objectives. When agency leaders request feedback from employees, it reminds them that their work is valued and impacts on the mission of the agency, no matter what their day-to-day workload looks like.

By collecting customer and employee feedback, an agency opens itself up to criticism, and while this can be uncomfortable, it offers an opportunity. With a feedback-based CX program, agency employees can bring creative solutions to their leadership teams, helping  develop strategic plans to improve the agency. The same way that collecting feedback from frontline employees can empower them, managers also feel a sense of ownership and loyalty when they have a voice and an opportunity to solve problems they have a stake in.

This feedback helps agency leadership determine where to focus resources to improve processes and add value to the agency overall. Ideally, the feedback can guide the development of new efficient systems and even change in agency culture, making it easier for citizens to interact with the agency and for the agency to work toward its mission.

Feedback enhances the citizen experience, but it also helps leaders make informed decisions that have a major impact on the agency. Think of it as a domino effect. When citizens feel heard, they make happier customers, helping to create positive experiences for employees. It’s not just about checking a box, but about effecting real change across a variety of levels. This ripple is felt throughout an agency, improving employee morale, retention and productivity.

About the Author

Zac Trojak is a principal, public sector, at Medallia.

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