Federal customer experience professionals offered advice this week to agencies looking to improve their customer experience and highlighted resources that their agencies have utilized to improve customer service.

“I’ve pulled on a number of resources in my career that have really helped me infuse the innovative brain of industry into the business,” said Barbara Morton, deputy chief veterans experience officer at the Department of Veterans Affairs, during Government Executive’s Customer Experience Summit on Tuesday. She highlighted the talents of Presidential Innovation Fellows, the U.S. Digital Service team, and design resources from the Office of Personnel and Management (OPM).

Morton said that the department’s past challenges acted as a catalyst for improvement. “VA has gone through a lot of maturation in this space,” she said. “We want to model after industry and have that be the same. Whatever channel folks are choosing to use, they should have those same expectations from government.” She touted VA’s outpatient experience program, which consulted with industry and worked across the department to create customer-friendly tools. She also noted the importance of getting buy-in from agency leadership. “Our new secretary’s number one priority is customer experience. Having top leadership really drive that focus is really important,” she said.

Morton also offered her help to agencies on their own customer experience journey. “I’m happy to talk to any and all of you about our journey here at VA, and that’s sort of an open-door policy for me,” she said.

For those who can’t reach Morton, don’t worry–plenty of resources are available.

“We’re starting to put things on performance.gov/cx, and for those of you inside government, the OMB (Office of Management and Budget) MAX.gov page that has our cross-agency priority goals will also have additional resources,” said Amira Boland, deputy director at the Office of Evaluation Sciences within the General Services Administration (GSA). She noted that resources would include journey maps and case studies from other agencies, a self-assessment tool, a survey tool, and an action plan template.

Chief among the efforts that Boland highlighted was OMB Circular A-11, which added guidance for customer experience alongside budget preparation advice this year.

“In the A-11 guidance, we actually took a piece of it to spell out how we could start to establish a structure and consistent potential benchmarks for measuring customer experience across government,” she said. Boland emphasized that the measurements provide flexibility for agencies to “make it work for them,” but noted that the guidance aims to pull out common threads across different mission areas.

“We went through a process of talking with teams at agencies that are already measuring things, private sector organizations, and then came around to seven domains of customer experience and have created questions for agencies to adopt. We believe that those measures are a great starting place to creating government-wide metrics,” Boland added.


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