Insight by Deloitte

Customer data platforms can help agencies meet new EO goals, build trust in government

This content is sponsored by Deloitte.

Customer service is top of agencies’ minds right now, with the recent executive order from President Joe Biden focusing on improving experience and equity of public-facing services through modernized programs and technologies that provide a simple, seamless customer experience.

“When a disaster survivor, single parent, immigrant, small business owner, or veteran waits months for the government to process benefits to which they are entitled, that lost time is a...

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This content is sponsored by Deloitte.

Customer service is top of agencies’ minds right now, with the recent executive order from President Joe Biden focusing on improving experience and equity of public-facing services through modernized programs and technologies that provide a simple, seamless customer experience.

“When a disaster survivor, single parent, immigrant, small business owner, or veteran waits months for the government to process benefits to which they are entitled, that lost time is a significant cost not only for that individual, but in the aggregate, for our nation as a whole,” the executive order states.

Marketing, although typically thought of as profit-driving activity of the private sector, can help to shorten that lost time. By redefining “marketing” to mean “communicating with consumers of a service,” it becomes apparent that federal agencies are just as much in need of cutting-edge marketing as their commercial counterparts.

“The government has complex policies and regulation, combined with services and missions, that in total can be difficult to understand. To many it can seem unapproachable and the way to remedy this is by communicating proactively in plain language,” said RJ Krawiec, principal in Deloitte Consulting LLP and government and public services leader in Deloitte Digital. “And plain language, coupled with technology can help determine the right message for the right person depending on the outcome that needs to be achieved, helping to eliminate the need for individuals to understand complex policies, regulation and legislation.”

This is universal across government: Most people tend to think of taxpayers contacting the IRS, or veterans seeking health care when they think of consumers of government services. But even agencies like a state Medicaid agency can benefit from rethinking that stance. If a state Medicaid agency, for example, could communicate more effectively with people who need to renew or enroll in benefits, which is the largest single expense for a state, it could help reduce the churn and positively impact both the individual’s health and the state’s budget.

And that’s one of the three main benefits to better communication: Government becomes more efficient, federal employees are better able to do their jobs, and customers – be they citizens, immigrants or any other group that seeks government services – are more satisfied.

So how can federal agencies meet the goals of the new EO, and achieve these results?

“Using technology, we find that messages are more likely to be acted upon if they are personalized, and come through a preferred channel. The problem is, there are lots of companies and entities trying to get messages out, and as a result government will compete with other B2C companies targeting the same people. So it’s really easy to get lost in a flood of messages. Consistency, clarity and chosen channel tailored to you makes a message much more likely to be adopted or acted upon,” Krawiec said.

That’s far easier now than it was even ten years ago, due to the rise in customer data platforms like Deloitte’s HUX. These platforms can enable agencies to collect customer data, segment it, tailor and personalize messages, and then automate and coordinate those messages across multiple platforms. It’s customized, targeted advertising at scale, which is one of the biggest challenges federal agencies face.

“If you’re a luxury retailer, you likely have a sharply defined audience, and you need to find them and then treat them really well. Government doesn’t have that luxury, no pun intended. They need to talk to everybody all the time,” Krawiec said.

By applying artificial intelligence to the customer data collected in this platform, it’s possible for agencies to gain deeper insights into what matters to various demographics. So, for example, if the Agriculture Department wants to encourage single mothers on the Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program with children under the age of 10 to make healthier choices, these platforms can compile a list of those customers and the best ways to reach them. But that’s not all. Platforms like HUX can also help agencies create a year-long journey for those customers that provides targeted information around significant dates, like holidays, summer vacation, or back-to-school.

“You’re feeding them information that they can use to make healthier choices. And you do that once and can not only forget it for the year, but just have it keep going as new moms enter the system, or graduate out moms whose kids are over a certain age,” Krawiec said.

Because this communication now happens over digital media versus traditional, like TV or print campaigns, it allows for a new two-way dynamic, where customers can respond and interact. Deloitte Consulting conducted a survey that found two-way communication helps raise trust in government. It’s why local government is the most trusted, followed by state, with federal in last place. It’s simply easier to get in touch locally. That’s one reason why, out of all the federal agencies, the Post Office has one of the highest approval ratings among the public with 91% of respondents indicating favorable views: it’s locally accessible.

“What we found is trust is highest when you’re combining the two: in-person experiences with always active digital communications,” Krawiec said. “And I see a lot of opportunity here.”

 

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