Trust and transparency are at the heart of any agency’s digital transformation strategy.
It’s part of how agencies use data. It’s part of how they secure their systems. And it’s part of how they serve their mission area.
Given the pace of change across the federal landscape over the last few years, agencies must take advantage of this rare opportunity to transform their services to service internal and external customers differently, better and in a way that engenders both trust and transparency.
The January 2023 report from the American Customer Service Index found federal government services surges in 2022, up 4.6% from 63.4 to 66.3 on the 100-point scale.
ACSI found among these drivers of satisfaction, two of the four increased substantially between 2021 and 2022: efficiency and ease of government processes and ease of accessing and clarity of information.
The other two primary drivers of satisfaction—the courtesy and professionalism of customer service and perceptions of government website quality decline slightly.
Mike Shortino, a principal digital strategist for federal civilian government at Salesforce, said agencies must continue to improve customer experience through digital transformation by connecting service siloes across the government.
“There’s an aspect of leveraging the masses there that’s inherent in scalable cloud and software-as-a-service. But even with platform tools, the more folks that are using it, the more feedback we get as an organization, the better we can make those tools for our end users,” Shortino said on the discussion Innovation in Government sponsored by Carahsoft. “By recognizing that and adopting out of the box principles, where they make sense for the organization, has been a big shift. A lot of what we do is connect to those capabilities, but also the patterns of success that agencies have achieved by leveraging those capabilities. So thinking about what we call a platform mindset to leverage first, then code or create second as a way to really speed time to value for your constituents.”
This platform approach to bring together data to make better decisions is leading to more trust and transparency in government.
Three trends pushing transformation forward
Shortino said there are several trends driving these changes.
First, he said agencies need to recognize that change is constant and they have to be prepared for the next crisis or the next opportunity.
“Now, there’s layers of our architecture in our organization where we can predict where that change is going to be more acute. Where you touch your constituents, I think we’re finding those expectations are changing,” Shortino said. “That’s a natural layer of change within your organization that you need to be attuned to. So by systematically investing in the experience layer, we can really impact that trust over time.”
A second trend is the need to collaborate across agencies, across governments and with the private sector.
He said agencies need to lean on a wider variety of partners to accomplish their mission goals.
A third trend is to take advantage of the ever-changing technology that industry is bringing to the government. This includes everything from robotics process automation (RPA) to advanced artificial intelligence to enhanced cloud platforms.
“Transparency is important. But so is trust in the use of data and how it’s being leveraged as it relates to someone’s service experience and their knowledge of their personal service experience. Transparency is like a great idea and it can build trust,” Shortino said. “At the same time, there is risks that can be associated with too much transparency or transparency where we haven’t been given the right to extend it. I think that nuanced view of how we view data and in terms of the experience, and how that being really protective, and a little bit risk averse, in one way can help build trust, at the same time, extending transparency in other areas can also help build trust.”
In the end, Shortino said providing an improved digital experience for the customer is, like any process improvement, as much about culture change as anything else.
“I’m also a big believer in the fact that culture is built on success. The culture exists because it’s a set of behaviors that that worked in the past for us. So the only way to change that culture is to show that there’s a better way, or at least as good away, doing it a different way,” he said. “The government often is challenged with its culture. But I think we need to honor that culture and see how we can leverage that culture for an advantage. That’s a consistent headwind. But I think your more enlightened leaders are starting to turn that into a tailwind.”