Adobe Public Sector Blog

September 15, 2015 /Policy /

Customer Experience Officers (CXOs) in the Public Sector

Public sector CXOs are now in a position to see what happened in the commercial world with the rise of the Chief Marketing Officer (CMO) – often a private sector counterpart of the public sector CXO – and learn from the experiences in the private sector.

In the private sector the CMO has become more influential and powerful, especially compared to what was happening about a decade ago when the CIO had all the say in technology decisions.

In many companies today, the CMO drives the next generation of customer experience with the CIO working together with the CMO. The CIO no longer has all the decision making power on technology. The customer benefits from this, as we will soon see in this article. Those in the public sector can look at:

  • how the cultural change in the relationship between the CMO and CIO changed the delivery of technology
  • benefitting from newer technologies developed recently to improve the customer experience
  • optimizing transactions and not just putting information online – transactions are where the real benefits are

The public sector is now looking at providing effective digital experiences for applications such as paying taxes or traffic tickets or providing citizen customers with an effective experience when applying for benefits. The public sector can now provide an experience that is easier for the customer and at a price that has come down and become cost effective.

We see the cost of a government transaction in person being 30-40 times the cost of serving the same person online. See the Deloitte study – Digital Government Transformation – for details. We have seen customer services costs go from $17 for in person to $.40 for online.

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What happened in the private sector

About a decade ago, a CMO would launch a campaign that involved, for example, a web site, mobile, and ads in various channels. A CIO would provide the CMO with what to use for the campaign. Often the CMO would not be able to use the solutions or found them lacking.

As the CMO grew in decision-making power and got a bigger budget, solutions got better. Next generation technology solutions improved as the CMO became more influential in moving the company into the digital era.

In the public sector a CXO can function effectively in a way that is similar to the CMO today, making decisions about technology solutions and advocating for the customer and customer experience.

An improved process

The public sector can learn from the private sector by having the CXO act in a way similar to a CMO, working more closely with the CIO and not simply providing requirements for the CIO to deliver on.  Learning how Digital Marketing technologies have revolutionized customer experience for major commercial brands the CMO and identifying parallel solutions being delivered and doing research on what is best for customers are best practices for the public sector.

As public sector CXOs become more customer-centric, they can move from the moving 1960s era technology in to the digital age to being able to re-imagine how a solution could be designed leveraging todays technology solutions. These technologies have matured to keep pace with what more technologically savvy audiences expect. In addition CXOs can benefit as prices have come down for many applications. This can apply to a web site, a mobile, app, e-mail delivery, or an entire integrated customer experience.

Citizen customers are consumers as well and they expect experiences similar to what they see from companies like from Amazon, Nike, Delta. It makes sense for those in the public sector today to work with a vendor who has a proven track record of delivering these experiences for commercial companies rather than re-inventing the wheel with one off products for public sector.

For example, providing an easy to use mobile optimized experience for applying for Child Care benefits can be a huge money saver by helping to move the transaction from in person to online while also increasing the citizen’s experience –as compared to the traditional paper-based process. The public sector today can learn from the experience of the private sector including cultural growing pains from the move to the digital era. Vendors can offer to the public sector technology to easily deliver consumer like experience with tremendous cost savings.

Another way to think about this is from a homebuilder’s point of view, a government contractor who builds houses for the government uses commercial grade technology like a nail gun to build a house on time and on budget. We would never imagine arming that same builder with a government specific hammer instead of that commercially proven nail gun. The same can be applied to commercial software technology, if you want to build a consumer like experience for citizens, leverage the tools that have been leveraged to deliver these consumer experiences not something specifically designed for government experiences. In the long run the nail gun is more cost effective as you build houses with fewer hours of work. Your research can show that with some digital solutions you are better off with a more expensive up front choice if you factor in all options over time.

Here are some related links you might find of interest.

  • About saving money with a digital approach, IRS Commissioner Doug Shulman states that e-file “has delivered real services to taxpayers, including faster refunds and… because an e-file return costs us 20 times less to process than a paper return <it> saved hundreds of millions of dollars,” according to One Billion Served: IRS E-File Passes Major Milestone.
Policy