Creating better customer experiences that drive positive business outcomes isn’t just the purview of the private sector. Increasingly, government leaders are embracing customer-centricity in their work.
“Finding better ways to listen to customers, reduce red tape, and find cost savings matters just as much in government as anywhere else,” says Stephanie Thum, CCXP, who currently serves as Chief Advisor and Subject Matter Expert, Federal Government for Qualtrics.
As one of the first agency-level CX leaders in the United States federal government, Thum would know. In 2012, she became the Vice President of Customer Experience for the Export-Import Bank of the U.S., a federal agency that finances and insures exports toward the creation of U.S. jobs. During her four years at EXIM Bank, EXIM was a $107 billion agency that returned more than $2 billion to the U.S. taxpayer. Since leaving government, she has worked as a consultant to multiple agencies.
While Thum notes that the conversation around CX in the federal government is not new—recalling that President Clinton signed an executive order in the 1990s directing agencies to listen to their customers through voice of the customer and other programs—the government, like private enterprise, has evolved. “You’ll find CX-related executive orders, past and present president’s management agenda goals on CX, legislation on CX, White House guidelines to agencies to incorporate CX into their cultures, and pressure from watchdogs that push the CX conversation forward,” Thum says. “All that brings us to an inflection point now.”
And change isn’t just happening in the United States.
“Other governments around the world are embracing customer and employee experience concepts and principles toward improving citizen experiences,” Thum says. “This year alone I’ve worked with state and local governments in Canada, Australia, and Ireland, for example.”
CX practitioners in government face some unique barriers, however, when it comes to collecting data and ultimately realizing better experiences for those they serve. Thum cites the Paperwork Reduction Act as an example, a U.S. law that requires government agencies to go through layers of approval and review prior to being allowed to survey citizens about their experiences. “Agencies don’t change laws,” Thum says. “Congress does.”
Despite some of the unique challenges in this space, Thum thinks a CX focus in government is here to stay.
“Government touches everyone, everywhere, every day.” Thum says. “Creating better citizen experiences is a non-partisan political issue that also just happens to make good business sense. It’s fascinating to watch the growth.”