CX Exchange 2024: Navy’s Petra Alfred on tapping into the voice of the customer

The CX director for Navy’s PEO MLB shares how her team engages employees, sailors and Marines to get feedback.

The Navy’s Program Executive Office for Manpower, Logistics and Business Solutions is iteratively building out a customer experience approach to better serve sailors and Marines.

PEO MLB delivers a range of enterprise business applications and services to the Navy and Marine Corps. Petra Alfred, director of customer experience at PEO MLB, said her team is in the early days of rolling out a voice of the customer capability across the organization.

“Our priority is to ensure that all systems that we manage at PEO MLB are considering the user or the customer in their design, in their development, in their sustainment,” Alfred said during the Federal News Network’s CX Exchange 2024. “And in order to do that, we have to roll it out to the different portfolios that manage the systems.”

The PEO established its Voice of the Customer (VoC) Program last year. And last June, the White House Office of Management and Budget granted VoC survey approval, allowing Alfred’s team to ask a standard set of CX questions without needing to go through lengthy paperwork approvals.

Alfred said the program is in its infancy but gaining traction.

“The first initiative needs to always be educating and informing,” she said. “You’re trying to shift a culture. But that doesn’t happen overnight.”

CX ‘pulse survey’

The VoC capability has some early adopters in the PEO. Alfred’s team is now running a pulse survey of 15,000 Navy personnel who use systems managed by PEO MLB.

“People want to speak, and they’re able to tell you for those systems that they frequently use, what has your experience been? What are these top issues?” she explained. “How are you accessing the system? So that we can begin to get an understanding of the baseline and the lay of the land. Because that’s how we should be focusing resources. There may be a program that’s already doing a great deal of human-centered design and human factors. And we want to leverage those best practices to then share with other areas of the organization.”

CX working group within PEO MLB

Alfred said PEO MLB has also established a CX working group. It meets bi-weekly to discuss success stories, challenges, and other ways to help spread CX across the organization.

“That’s where we can share across the different portfolios. That’s where we can give people guidance if they’re just getting started,” she said. “We’ve been developing templates, determining what are those key metrics that we want to capture for customer experience and user experience across the portfolios. Some of that has been slow. But I think it’s slow for a reason because we want to be sure that we do it right. And we want to roll it out appropriately and ensure that we’re doing it with those industry best practices and science behind it.”

One area Alfred is keen on understanding is how the PEO should allocate resources toward CX. She pointed out that some program offices may not have a billet dedicated toward customer or user experience.

“The data will speak to us,” she said. “But I don’t think we have enough data yet to figure out what those lessons are.”

But more data is coming, from the pulse survey and other CX tools that are slowly spreading across the organization. And Alfred said it will be important for the organization to use artificial intelligence and other technologies to harness that data.

“You need to ask the users of your system, and they are not shy, they will tell you exactly what’s working and what’s not working,” Alfred said. “We just have to learn how to use the technology, so that we’re not overburdened with all of this data. The tools are where we can leverage automation and those analysis capabilities. How do we look at all this text and come up with themes and word clouds? How do we use statistics to analyze the data? Some of these things we’re still exploring.”

Discover more customer experience tactics and takeaways from Federal News Network’s CX Exchange 2024 now.

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