Empathy and the Public Sector: Why Customer Experiences Fail

Consumers’ high expectations for personalized, seamless interactions go beyond the customer experiences they have with banking and retail organizations. They expect the same relevance and connectedness when interacting with public sector institutions and government agencies. Nearly half of US consumers say they expect government services to be personalized.

But there’s a gap between the experiences consumers expect and what public sector organizations currently offer. Less than one-quarter of US consumers strongly agree that government agencies’ websites are easy and intuitive to navigate, for example. And only 23% of CX leaders at public sector organizations say they’re significantly minimizing customer effort across the customer journey. As a result, consumers worldwide rate government agencies lowest among all industries for the quality of customer experience they provide.

CX leaders at public sector institutions recognize this and are working to optimize the citizen experience and improve service interactions. They want to ensure fluid journeys and responsive services that meet citizen expectations for convenient interactions. They also aim to deliver the level of digital and self-service options that their constituents prefer — and expect. In doing so, they aim to build trust and reduce costs.

Government agencies’ CX leaders also recognize that a great citizen experience starts with a great employee experience. Half of CX leaders at public sector organizations say their top customer experience priority over the next two years is improving employee experience with new technology (or by connecting existing technology). They’re investing in tools that empower employees to deliver the prompt, personalized experiences citizens expect — and build employee engagement in the process.

“The public sector’s empathy gap” report provides further insight into the current state of the public sector experience from the constituents’ point of view, based on a consumer survey of 1,970 U.S. adults who have interacted with a government agency in the past year (such as renewing driver’s license, filing taxes, obtaining passport, or claiming government benefits). And it highlights how government agencies are responding to their expectations for personalized, seamless, digital-first experiences.

Learn more about improving the public sector constituent experience in “Six phases of digital engagement for government.”