The government has made progress in the year since a report on its shortcomings in providing customer service, the Partnership for Public Service has said, but wider adoption still is needed of some of the promising practices.
The report was a follow-up to one finding much variation among agencies in the customer experience, with issues including difficulty in getting needed information on the customer side and hindrances in collecting and using feedback on the agency side. The partial government shutdown that lasted into early last year added challenges, the new report added, while the shift to remote work due to the pandemic did the same this year.
“Faced with the challenge of delivering services during an unprecedented crisis, many agencies quickly adopted new strategies to meet changing customer needs. These enhancements should be embraced as the new normal for how government works, not just something it does during a crisis,” it said, citing as examples initiatives to quickly understand changing customer needs and pivot accordingly and accelerate self-serve capabilities.
“Though the pandemic generated a shock to government, it only highlights the need for greater agility when engaging with the public. For government to meet current challenges and long-standing requirements, it needs to shift its service delivery approach in three ways”: that agencies “must understand and address customers’ changing needs far more quickly than they have in the past” and “need to offer digital self-service options for more complex interactions, not just for simple transactions” and most enable employees “to deliver services from anywhere, to anywhere.”
Practices it recommended for wider use include “setting key performance measures based on customer feedback; assigning a senior executive to lead on customer experience; collecting, analyzing and sharing customer feedback publicly; providing support and answering questions on social media; focusing on the experience of people who help others navigate federal services; and managing customer experience as an enterprise-wide effort.”