How to Increase Your Customer Experience Maturity Level and Deliver Better Citizen Services
When it comes to delivering good customer experiences (CX), most government agencies face challenges amplified by legacy technology, government bureaucracy, political considerations, and funding limitations. Despite these challenges, government agencies are being called upon to improve digital experiences. Here's how to advance your CX maturity into a more strategic phase that will deliver better results – for your agency and your constituents.
A Citizen Experience with Room to Grow
Government agencies have long sought to deliver a CX on par with the private sector. So far, that's been more aspiration than reality.
A 2023 McKinsey & Company report states that, "government lags behind the private sector in providing high-quality, end-to-end experiences that satisfy customers" and cites an average CSAT score for federal services wavering around 31%. Another McKinsey report from late 2022 also brings bad news for state governments, which reported an average resident satisfaction of 28%.
Executive and legislative efforts are actively pushing to shift this narrative. President Biden's Executive Order 14058 emphasizes the importance of citizen-centric services and aims to enhance CX across federal agencies. The 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA) focuses on improving digital experiences for government customers. These mandates give agencies excellent guidelines to improve CX.
But recognizing the issue and establishing the opportunity to change is only part of the battle. How do agencies shift the narrative and improve citizen satisfaction? The answer: with a more mature approach to CX.
Unpacking the CX Maturity Model
The Customer Experience Center of Excellence's CX Maturity Model can help with this effort. The model groups public sector agencies into 5 phases of maturity:
Reactive: agencies with a rudimentary understanding of their citizens' needs
Tactical: agencies with occasional forays into citizen research, usually as part of larger projects
Strategic: agencies with enough citizen-focused initiatives to warrant aligning research and analysis efforts
Foundational: agencies with coordinated CX efforts that fit intentionally within well-articulated strategies
Customer (or Citizen)-Centric: agencies primarily structured around the measurable satisfaction of citizen needs
The CX Maturity Model measures agencies by how adept they are at five core functions:
Measurement: collecting and analyzing data for CX-related outcomes
Governance & Strategy: institutionalizing CX by holding agency leaders accountable, defining processes, and aligning business initiatives
Culture & Organization: hiring CX experts and supporting human-centered design (HCD) tools and processes
Customer (or Citizen) Understanding: collecting qualitative and quantitative data about constituent needs and journeys
Service Design & Improvement: fixing broken services and introducing new ones with citizens' needs at the center of development
If yours is like most public sector agencies, it's in the Tactical phase of the model. You're beginning to think more about the holistic citizen experience and occasionally interacting with constituents and conducting research. However, you probably don't have a lot of good qualitative and quantitative data and, thus, are not doing everything you could be doing to deliver an exceptional CX.
You know you need to become more Strategic, where you start to employ processes and tools that will support and grow your CX capabilities. But you might now know how to get there.
This guide will show you what you need to do to move from Tactical to Strategic, and the tools you can use to keep delivering great citizen interactions once you get there.
The Tactical Phase: A Good Start, and Yet...
If your agency is in the Tactical phase, you should applaud yourself — you're already ahead of the game. At this point, you're:
- Aggressively connecting with constituents through direct citizen contact
- Defining citizens based on conversations with staff throughout the agency
- Mining data call centers for robust and timely CX insights
- Leveraging insights of front-line staff members who interact with citizens regularly
- Tying contract deliverables to citizen satisfaction
However, there's still work to be done. Because, while you're using data and insights to inform some individual touch points within your agency, they're probably not being used across your entire organization. You're also not quite at the point where CX is ingrained in your agency's culture. You probably don't have the internal infrastructure needed to regularly roll out and support CX-focused projects and you may not have all the tools and technologies needed to connect with your citizens instantly and in the ways they prefer.
The Challenges of Being Too Tactical
Agencies in the Tactical phase are making progress toward CX maturity and fulfilling some of the five core functions of the CX Maturity Model, but there is room for improvement.
- Measurement: There are little to no agency standards for describing or tracking CX-related outcomes, and measurement tools and processes are brought in by contractors
- Governance & Strategy: Constituent feedback is sometimes leveraged for strategic planning, but there’s no formalized approach to CX
- Culture & Organization: There’s no on-staff CX expertise, though agencies may hire some contractors with CX experience who bring in HCD tools and processes
- Citizen Understanding: Limited history of collecting or analyzing data surrounding constituent needs
- Service Design & Improvement: Big technology challenges ensue whenever CX services are introduced or improved
Being Tactical isn't a bad thing. If you're Tactical, chances are you've already laid solid groundwork for delivering a good CX. It's just that there's really so much more you could be doing to elevate your CX program.
That's where the Strategic phase comes in. Once you reach a more strategic level of maturity, you'll be able to create more useful citizen interactions across multiple touchpoints. You'll have actual hard data you can use to direct your interactions with citizens. Those interactions will become more targeted and proactive — you'll be able to anticipate citizens' needs and connect with them on a one-to-one level.
In short, your CX efforts will begin to enable the type of service delivery your citizens expect — and what your agency expects of itself.
Here's how to get there.
The Strategic Phase: Now You're Talking (to Your Citizens)
The Strategic phase is where your CX initiatives really start to take off. You'll be able to use research and analysis to drive better citizen programs and outcomes and have the resources required to optimize CX for the long term.
The Benefits of Being Strategic
Agencies at the Strategic level begin to set themselves apart in the CX Maturity Model's core functions.
- Measurement: Agencies maintain standards for describing and tracking CX outcomes
- Governance & Strategy: Citizen needs are leveraged for strategic and operational planning
- Culture & Organization: CX experts and contractors with CX experience are on staff to ensure that HCD tools and processes are in place
- Citizen Understanding: Agencies collect, analyze, and share citizen needs and information
- Service Design & Improvement: There are discussions within the agency about approaches to introducing or improving services
To get to the Strategic phase, you'll need to focus on a few important initiatives:
Interacting with citizens consistently
Maintaining consistent interactions with citizens — and analyzing those interactions — will help you get a complete picture of who those citizens are and what they want and need. By doing this repeatedly over time, you'll be able to develop a better understanding of the types of services and information citizens are looking for, and how to deliver it to them.
Basing technology purchases and implementations on what citizens need
Getting a better idea of what citizens need will also help inform your technology purchases. For instance, if citizens place a priority on interacting with your agency quickly over the web, you may consider investing in a chat solution. Or, you may discover that they're interested in certain types of content. Once you learn their preferences and habits, you'll be able to plan your technology implementations around exactly what they need.
Investing in people, processes, and technologies necessary to deliver a great CX
Investing in technologies that make it easier for citizens to get what they need without dialing into a call center doesn't lessen the importance of having people and processes devoted to CX. Indeed, it just makes them even more important. For instance, a website with a great search function may lessen the load on call center operators and free them up to handle high-priority, in-depth citizen inquiries. Likewise, technology can help improve the CX processes those operators employ to get answers to citizens — if a citizen calls in, or example, a rep might refer to their own internal search process to quickly provide the caller with an accurate response.
Creating a culture of CX throughout your agency
This will become much easier to do if you accomplish the previous three steps. Any amount of success increases the likelihood that everyone in your organization, from the top down, will embrace a culture of CX. And if your CX program yields positive reviews, people in your agency will be able to see the fruits of their efforts brought to life — which will inspire them to keep up the good Strategic work.
OK, you've advanced to the Strategic phase of CX maturity. Now what do you do?
Naturally, you'll want to start thinking about moving to the Foundational stage and eventually to the Customer-centric phase. But before you do that, you'll want to make sure that you're putting your Strategic know-how to good use and delivering information in ways that are most useful to your constituents.
This is where Yext can help.
Yext's platform combines content, chat, and search to provide better citizen experiences. Yext Content's headless CMS structure unifies and organizes your agency's content to deliver precise and accurate answers and information to your citizens. Yext Search and Chat use AI-powered natural language processing models that filter through your organization's data to deliver straightforward, relevant, and timely results and information.
We don't just deliver these insights on your own site. Our Listings service allows you to reach constituents through a network of 200+ sites, so you can reach them wherever they are. And with Reviews, you can give citizens a way to leave feedback on your agency across the web, so you can better learn about citizens' experiences and improve your services.
Times will change, the needs of your citizens will change, and the journeys they go through will change. By leveraging Yext, your organization can change and grow with exactly what your citizens need and make CX a fundamental part of your agency and its decision-making, from the Strategic phase and beyond.
Designing and delivering services that satisfy the well-defined needs of well-defined citizens is challenging. But defining who citizens are, collecting data on their needs, and leveraging those insights to deliver services that meet them where they are is critical to increasing constituent satisfaction and remaining true to a single mantra: "The Government exists to serve the public, period."
Yext is the perfect solution to helping you make the most of your Strategic CX initiatives. Our solutions are ideal for delivering citizen-centric information quickly, reliably, and accurately. With Yext, you can take everything you've done to build an exceptional infrastructure around CX and finally make delivering great citizen experiences a reality.