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Customer experience (CX) is not something most people associate with government services. Instead, they’re faced with visions of long queues, unenthusiastic or overworked service reps, and an almost endless trail of bureaucratic red tape. With money expected to flow into utilities in the years to come, both due to a newly elected presidential administration and an attempt to pull the country out of a Covid-induced recession, there is an opportunity. ripe to bring CX breakthroughs to the public sector.
Related: 4 ways to use AI to improve the customer experience
Paradigm shift for the public sector
New administrations, whether Democrats or Republican, have historically had different priorities in terms of spending money. Services could include social protection programs, housing assistance, or increased defense spending and infrastructure spending, among hundreds of others. The common thread between jurisdictions is the need to secure funding for the programs and people it is intended to serve.
Services are not very good if they are inaccessible. Public services and administrations are notoriously difficult to navigate, made up of disparate agencies that don’t have integrated systems, web pages with old links, or totally conflicting information about who qualifies for what.
All of this means that improving the customer experience for the government sector will require a significant paradigm shift. Public sector agencies face challenges that private sector companies do not know. Specifically, public sector agencies are generally understaffed, often serving a large part of the population, and doing so without being incentivized to make a profit. These constraints do not allow the government to achieve super-fast processing speeds or perfect efficiency. Now is the time for a system overhaul – to include government agencies leveraging private sector technologies for the public good.
Areas of Growth
That said, there are a few specific areas that are particularly ripe for vast improvements using private sector technology. Improving these areas could dramatically improve the average user’s experience in qualifying for and obtaining government services.
In recent years, commercial vendors have developed a plethora of affordable and secure software and cloud-based service options. The ability for the government to outsource certain CX functions to these vendors eliminates any need for the government to maintain outdated systems or “paper” application requirements. When properly implemented, these partnerships can also reduce fraud, waste and abuse in government programs.
Eligibility and Identity Verification
Determining eligibility has been a significant challenge for the public, who often face conflicting information and multiple agencies to submit their applications. This could be a thing of the past, as companies like TransUnion and others compile stronger online profiles for almost everyone in the country. Online Identity Verification every year becomes more and more secure. This data could be exploited to determine a person’s eligibility with almost no need to even be involved beyond entering basic information – and with much more precision.
Another possibility for improvement lies in the general application process. With health issues, it’s understandable that clients don’t want to venture into a physical location, and agencies don’t want to put their employees at risk. Instead of just shutting down their buildings, however, much of the application process can be done virtually or remotely. Not only does this keep people from exposing themselves to potential viruses, it also improves CX as people can complete an application from the comfort of their home.
Government websites can be difficult to navigate. They are often filled with bad links and old or incorrect contact information. Users can find it extremely frustrating trying to find the information they need, and they will often give up instead.
This is the third area of significant improvement. New advances in artificial intelligence can facilitate efficient storage, organization and access to data. All of this means that the average user can access the information they need on an app or system optimized for mobile devices. This is a potential change for agencies that have too few resources and too many clients.
Related: Hackers from foreign states allegedly violated the US Treasury
Solutions for everyone
There are many other opportunities for CX to make significant improvements to government services, but these are three that are particularly problematic today. These are just a few of the things government agencies can take to help bring their services to the millions of Americans who really need them.