5 steps for reinventing the federal customer experience using automation

Outdated websites, long wait times and convoluted processes are all-too-familiar experiences for citizens interacting with federal agencies. And in the digital age, citizens expect agencies to move beyond their antiquated systems and processes to deliver faster, on-demand and personalized citizen experiences (CX).

The White House made CX a top priority when it issued its Executive Order in late 2021. This EO directs 17 federal agencies to prioritize CX and deploy technology that integrates with legacy...

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Outdated websites, long wait times and convoluted processes are all-too-familiar experiences for citizens interacting with federal agencies. And in the digital age, citizens expect agencies to move beyond their antiquated systems and processes to deliver faster, on-demand and personalized citizen experiences (CX).

The White House made CX a top priority when it issued its Executive Order in late 2021. This EO directs 17 federal agencies to prioritize CX and deploy technology that integrates with legacy IT systems, saves taxpayers dollars and streamlines operations. And with emerging technologies like automation, artificial intelligence, machine learning and others, agencies are now closer to making improved CX a reality.

Opportunities for Reinventing CX in Government

Robotic process automation has been a game-changer for workforce development, streamlining operations and driving quality CX. And no matter where agencies are on the path to enhanced digital operations, automation can be easily integrated into existing government infrastructure as they progress on their transformation journey.

By embracing automation, federal CIOs can expect to see faster, more transparent CX and millions in taxpayer dollars saved. And the possibilities don’t end there. Automation increases capacity and speed of service delivery, drives innovation, fuels career development and improves employee productivity. Automation requires minimal training for employees and zero coding.

Yet many federal CIOs still face various challenges related to digital transformation and automation adoption. For example, according to a 2021 FedScoop survey, security and compliance, lack of training and deciding what work functions to automate were among the top concerns for federal executives. Even with these challenges, 89% of federal, state and local agencies have said that improving CX remains a top priority. This is where RPA can act as a catalyst for digital transformation.

5 steps to drive quality CX

For agency leaders with goals to meet the directives in the EO and transform their agencies, positive outcomes are within reach. Here are five steps federal CIOs should take to deliver excellent public services and improve citizen satisfaction with the help of automation.

1. Build an RPA Center of Excellence (CoE)

Federal CIOs should start their RPA journey by building an automation CoE. An RPA CoE establishes proper RPA governance from the start, enables better communication and collaboration across federal teams and partners, and defines frameworks for change management. The automation CoE becomes the central driver at the organization, identifying opportunities where automation can make the greatest impact and then executing on them at scale. It also helps build skills and capacity for RPA implementation. Additionally, creating a CoE sets the stage for growth within agencies to sustain and develop RPA over time.

2. Deploy automation to boost citizen satisfaction rates and build trust

Lengthy processes and poor user experiences have left many citizens feeling frustrated, eroding their trust in government. With automation, agencies can clear work backlogs and quickly address citizen requests. For instance, automation reduces call hold times and abandonment rates, allowing employees to handle more complex requests faster and with better care. RPA can also be used for automated profile updates and expedited customer billing and processing, among other functions.

3. Set up chatbots to increase citizen response time and quality

Virtual assistants (VAs) and chatbots are excellent tools to handle large volumes of citizen requests. Chatbots and VAs work with software robots to fulfill citizen inquiries without human intervention while reducing errors. For example, chatbots can guide citizens in navigating government websites in plain English and process applications and forms. They also easily integrate with legacy systems and can be made available 24/7.

By delegating simple tasks to chatbots, public administrators can redirect their employees’ time to more complex requests. This strategy creates opportunities for upskilling so that employees can spend more time strengthening relationships with citizens and solving complex problems.

4. Use automation to ensure compliance with data privacy and security regulations

Ever-changing data privacy and security regulations require agencies to quickly adapt to and comply with these laws, a challenge for agencies that may not be agile enough for rapidly changing data environments. Automation ensures agencies comply when handling citizen interactions and data while improving response time and accuracy. RPA also automatically notifies citizens should a data breach occur.

5. Enhance the citizen experience with AI/ML

Artificial intelligence and machine learning can help expedite basic procedures and low-value tasks to software robots and improve CX. When integrated with AI/ML, natural language processes and artificial neural networks, automation gains new cognitive abilities. RPA works with AI/ML to verify data from multiple sources, spot anomalies and reconcile information. Fueled with AI/ML, RPA augments the federal workforce to fulfill rote, labor-intensive tasks, such as checking, verifying, scanning, coding and providing algorithmic predictions, all while allowing government employees to focus on higher-value tasks and improving customer service.

A bright future for federal CX

From setting up an RPA Center of Excellence to deploying automation with AI/ML, federal CIOs have many RPA implementation strategies at their disposal to achieve mission and improve customer satisfaction. Additionally, automation’s time-saving capabilities, ease of use and secure deployment can tremendously benefit citizens and federal employees. By envisioning a digital government with RPA and emerging technologies at the forefront, federal CIOs can achieve the directives outlined in the EO and create exceptional CX for their constituents.

Jagjit Dhaliwal is CIO evangelist at UiPath and a former deputy CIO at the LA County Office of the Chief Information Officer.

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