Adobe Public Sector Blog

Happy citizens vs. happy customers

I recently participated in a panel discussing how concepts of customer centricity in the private sector can translate to use in the government.   The private sector has significantly increased its focus and understanding of customer experience.  In recent years, companies have added specific management roles dedicated to Customer Experience and have also refined how to measure the quality of a customer’s experience.  The measurement of customer experience is equally important for government.  How are companies measuring customer experience and how does this translate to use in government?

There are obviously a few ways to measure customer experience.  One starting point is how Forrester Research classifies enterprise-level customer experience metrics used by companies.  Forrester divides customer experience metrics into three buckets: descriptive, subjective, and outcomes:

  • The first bucket, descriptive metrics, measure characteristics of customer interactions across channels.  This includes things like call center or email volumes and average call time. Descriptive measures translate well as-is for use in government.  Call centers and branch offices in government can use exactly to same measures.
  • The second bucket, subjective metrics, measure how customers feel about their interactions.  The typical measure is customer satisfaction based on surveys.  Again these measures translate well as-is for use in government (and many agencies already do use them).
  • The third bucket, outcomes, in the private sector measures what customers did or received based on their experiences.  A common metric for companies would be the proportion of customers that make a purchase or renew a service.  While measuring purchases generally isn’t a good measure for government, measuring outcomes is clearly still important.  For government a more appropriate outcome to measure could be the time it takes for a citizen to receive a benefit.

Much as they do in the private sector, using metrics like these can help government get insight into the customer experience for their citizens.  When the metrics indicate a good customer experience, it suggests that citizens are able to find the information they need or get services delivered in a timely manner.  But when the metrics indicate a poor experience, then it is often sign that systems are not designed to be citizen-centric. This might mean information is hard to find or perhaps manual processes are slowing down services delivery.  Therefore, looking for ways to improve the measures of customer experience helps focus on the outcomes and drive operational efficiency.

This is also an area where technology can play a role.  One technique for improving customer experience is helping citizens find and access services more efficiently on their own using more intuitive self-service tools.  Another technique is providing more effective and integrated tools for front-line staff like case workers or clerks that work with citizens.  We’ve talked about ways to enable citizens with self-service options or workers in assisted channel on this blog in the past.  For some ideas on how to approach this see this post or this one.

Creativity in Government, Enterprise Implementation, Government Innovation