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CX Exchange 2024: HCLSoftware’s Michael Roe on keeping people at center of experience design

Agencies know that the public now expects personalized CX from government services, the HCLSoftware product manager says.

Federal agencies are meeting their customers where they’re at by rethinking how they deliver public-facing benefits and services online and on mobile devices.

The Office of Management and Budget, in recent guidance on delivering a “digital-first public experience,” said a majority of the public accesses government services online, and that a growing segment of web traffic comes from mobile devices.

As agencies modernize their websites and their messaging, the public expects a personalized experience from government services — one that anticipates needs and clearly communicates next steps, said Michael Roe, product manager at .

“You want to make sure that you have targeted, relevant, personalized experiences, know something about the folks that are using the experience and deliver that to them,” Roe said during the Federal News Network’s 2024 CX Exchange.

Agencies are seeing higher expectations for service delivery from the public and are trying to deliver a customer experience that’s on par with leading private-sector companies.

Selecting metrics matters when measuring CX efforts

To deliver that excellent experience, Roe said agencies need to focus on the right metrics and understand, from a marketing perspective, who their customers are, what services are they looking for and what barriers keep them from obtaining those services.

“For years, marketers have known how to nurture those relationships, and we can take a cue from them — making sure you’re capturing metrics like hover and dwell time, what objects folks are looking at and the things that would make you think, ‘OK, they’re spending some of their attention on this content, or that application,’ ” he said. “Those types of things, if you can capture those, you can use that to make sure you’re continuing to personalize things.”

Agencies are embracing human-centered design principles as part of their customer experience modernization work, incorporating customer feedback into each element of iterative improvements.

“You really have to know who you’re building these experiences for, spending a lot of time upfront, making sure that you’ve understood and defined the personas, and uncovered the motivations of the folks that are going to be using the experience. It’s immensely important, so that you can understand how to best digitize a process,” Roe said.

How to better understand, design customer experiences

By gathering customer feedback, agencies can develop personas that help them better understand the types of customers who interact with their websites and the obstacles they encounter.

“It starts with going to the front lines and discovering how is it that those customers are actually consuming the digital experience or the process. Even going to the folks at a call center or help desk, and saying, ‘What does a traditional interaction look like?’ It’s very rare to achieve the perfect experience right out of the gate. The key is really to ensure that you are capturing the metrics — you’re capturing the analytics necessary — so that you can measure and remediate the designs and the application functionality in a very agile manner,” Roe said.

Agencies are also doing a lot of work with journey mapping to understand how users find and navigate government services online.

“The magic with journey mapping is not necessarily in a visualization by itself — of what the customer’s journey looks like. Ultimately, it is when you take that and then layer in the analytics, so that you can test and measure and make those remediations to continually enhance [the CX], with the right tools and the right data. This can even be automated to a very large extent,” Roe said.

Don’t forget about value of employee experience too

Customer feedback plays a vital role in improved service delivery, but agencies often overlook improving the experience of frontline federal employees, he said.

“The employee experience is probably at least as important as the customer experience because, ultimately, the employees are the front lines when you move beyond the digital and get into the more conversational, person-to-person touchpoints,” Roe said.

“What we’re trying to do is to attract, nurture and grow relationships with these audiences. So why should we be using any different tools to aid in that employee experience? We can leverage traditionally associated tools with marketing, integrate backend data that’s relevant to aid the employee with the interactions they might have with the customer.”

OMB in December 2023 tasked agencies with making accessibility a cornerstone of their digital strategies. Roe pointed out that accessibility is a huge but often overlooked part of providing streamlined digital services.

“Digital touchpoints and digital interactions are kind of below par. The reasons for that are not necessarily nefarious. Ultimately, it comes down to a lack of tooling,” he said.

The Biden administration has made better CX a governmentwide priority, but some agencies are further along in this work than others.

“If you’re providing an excellent customer experience, that starts with the employee experience. That starts with, how is it that we’re interacting with our partners,” Roe said. “How are we interacting interagency and so on. Everyone’s a customer is probably the best way to sum it up.”

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

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