Why customer experience is important to GSA, government

At the General Services Administration (GSA), customer satisfaction is integral to our mission. As GSA’s chief customer experience (CX) officer, I am proud to join with customer-facing leaders around the country to celebrate National Customer Service Week. Aligned with the President’s Management Agenda’s mandate to “provide a modern, streamlined, and responsive customer experience across government, comparable to leading private sector organizations,” GSA is playing a leading role in elevating customer centricity across federal agencies.

GSA was the first federal agency to hire an agencywide chief customer officer, adopting the best practices from leading private sector companies. As an early leader in this space, GSA faced an issue that is critical, but not unique, to government agencies: How do you fund a CX  program?

Prior to GSA’s single customer experience office, which is now named the Office of Customer Experience (OCE), customer research and vendor support was fragmented across the agency. Individual offices that interacted with customers were often soliciting feedback, but efforts were not coordinated across programs, nor was data shared. By integrating these efforts, we were able to achieve the cost savings needed to expand and maximize CX efforts, while also achieving lasting operational efficiencies.

Today, GSA is focusing on how an enhanced CX can improve an agency’s ability to achieve its mission and budget goals, while creating a stronger culture of citizen service and mission delivery among employees.

A key takeaway of this heightened focus on customer experience is collecting customer data across multiple channels, platforms and interactions that lead to actionable insights that inform policy and process decisions. This data-driven approach helps improve the customer experience and achieve desired results.

Collecting, analyzing and utilizing actionable data requires a well-constructed data strategy that focuses on the customer.

At GSA, we established a centralized, consistent and rigorous data flow for all customer feedback, including quantitative and qualitative data.

By standardizing survey practices across GSA, we were able to improve the quality of our data through a dynamic voice of the customer program. This program allows us to compile various data elements we were already collecting and pair them with operational data to produce insightful, actionable reports designed to enhance data-driven decisions focused on the customer.

Additionally, by consolidating GSA survey research into one platform, we are now able to save taxpayers $3 million per year.

Beyond the cost savings and insights generation, OCE is helping drive a cultural shift across GSA. The focus on customer experience enables GSA to continually use survey data to address customers’ wants and needs. Because of GSA’s unique role in mission support, we are also well-positioned to help our partners in other federal agencies learn from our agency’s customer focus and build on our successes. Through offerings like the CX Center of Excellence, we work with agencies to develop a better understanding of their customers and their needs, translating those findings into actions that create outstanding experiences.

By providing a replicable model that other federal agencies can use as they adopt more customer-centric perspectives and practices, we are able to play a major role in carrying out the administration’s broader vision of using data to improve interactions between our government and our ultimate customer — the American people.

 Anahita Reilly is GSA’s chief customer officer.

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