Customer Experience and Trust in Government


On December 13, President Biden signed an executive order to rebuild public trust in government by improving customer experience with seamless, efficient and connected services. A lot is at stake. Poor customer experience (CX) can cause confusion and embarrassment, sometimes undermining elected officials and hurting legislation. Most importantly, poor service experiences erode trust and confidence in government.

Efficiency and Effectiveness Aren’t Enough

In the past couple of years, public institutions have been pushed to deliver higher levels of services and information to citizens, businesses, customer agencies and more. It’s been clear for many years that we can’t scale the government workforce to match the demand for services. The challenge must be solved with technology; but removing or reducing human interactions can result in cold and impersonal experiences that prioritize efficiency and effectiveness. Service delivery must also prioritize empathy.

Transformational Customer Experience Requires Empathy

Engagement with government starts with a person — and the journey they’re on. We’re all on a journey, as are the government employees who serve citizens.​ When you deliver empathetic service you:

  • Remember the customer and treat them as an individual so they don’t have to repeat information. Similarly, a government employee doesn’t want to ask for the same information from the same person more than once.
  • Understand what citizens and employees need.​
  • Proactively engage to make the journey easier for each individual.
  • Make the experience easy and intuitive​.

​Knowing your customers means you understand them. Once you understand your customers, you can engage with empathy. And empathy builds trust.​

​But how do we do this at scale?

Empathy at Scale

To make empathy more concrete and actionable, we focus on four critical systems to deliver empathetic service:​

  • Listening to learn about the person requesting services or information
  • Understanding what the person needs and predicting the right way to respond
  • Acting with services or information to support the person
  • Learning from the outcomes of that response to continuously improve​

​Looking at empathy this way makes it more tangible. These systems are actions. Technology can support these actions to make services more effective and make the delivery of empathetic service scalable.​

Technology Enables Empathy

Data and artificial intelligence (AI), combined with voice and digital engagement capabilities, are critical for the systems of listening, understanding and prediction, action, and learning that make empathy at scale possible.​

  • We leverage historical and real-time citizen engagement data to listen to who is interacting with us and how they are interacting — at scale. ​
  • We can leverage employee data to understand and predict what’s needed and what or who’s most helpful to support the constituent with services and resources they need.
  • We act by delivering the right resource, information or service through the right communication engagement channels at the right time. That could be FAQs on a webpage or human engagement for more complex issues.
  • We return to AI to continually learn and improve our actions and successful outcomes.

No Wrong Door

President Biden’s executive order moves government CX beyond a transactional approach. The order specifies that government agencies will identify customer life experiences that trigger engagement with government services and reduce barriers to access with an admirable “no wrong door” approach.

A focus on life experiences and “no wrong door” should support more proactive service delivery and helps increase awareness of government programs during times of need. It also reduces the “pain and friction” many feel while navigating government agencies for services and information. Enabling self-service with intuitive web experiences — and expanding communication options to include web, chat, email and social channels — will also help reduce the “pain and friction” that occur when engagement only happens through in-person meetings and paper-based processes.

Empowerment Through Automation, Integration and Orchestration

Automation and orchestration provide critical capabilities to deliver a connected experience across all touchpoints a person has with government. The organization can also leverage these capabilities to create a supportive and empowering experience for government employees who provide services to citizens.

Automation eliminates mundane work, such as filling out multiple forms with the same information. Integration ensures the systems of record for different departments and agencies can be accessed across one digital ecosystem for citizen engagement. And, orchestrating systems of listening, understanding and predicting, acting, and learning supports proactive and seamless service delivery at each stage of a person’s journey.

Of the People and for the People

During the pandemic, government agencies have made remarkable progress expanding and scaling services while shifting to remote work. This progress was made possible by public servants — employees committed to making government work. I’m optimistic President Biden’s order will build on this great progress and empower government employees to deliver exceptional personalized empathetic service experiences to citizens.