Innovative companies have successfully attracted and retained customers by delivering outstanding service and developing a seamless customer experience. Unlike private businesses, however, government agencies aren’t driven by profit and therefore, have to look at investments, technology and digital user experience in a different light.
Consumers also have different expectations of government entities. In the private sector, people expect a seamless customer experience in everything from online shopping to social media to even physical interaction. While businesses understand the need to streamline the customer experience to remain competitive, government agencies can also unlock new opportunities by looking at the customer experience through the eyes of private sector businesses.
According to Deloitte, federal agencies can provide a broader range of solutions by focusing on the way people interact with the process rather than just the process itself. While change almost always comes with challenges, taking customer experience cues from the private sector can help the public sector optimize operations and implement new approaches to problem solving. These valuable opportunities have the potential to benefit everyone from government employees and officials to job seekers and business owners.
One of the biggest challenges government agencies face when upgrading technology is budget. Like the private sector, they need to invest to save. Unlike the private sector, however, the budgeting process works differently with small incremental changes from year to year; this makes it difficult to invest in the future. When the technology journey isn’t continuously improved, it gets harder and harder to catch up.
Luckily, there’s a quick fix to this ongoing issue. If suppliers structure their solutions more evenly so there aren’t peaks in investment, it becomes more feasible for government agencies to consistently upgrade.
The Competitive Mindset
What many organizations don’t realize is that technology enhancements focused around user experience apply to both internal and external audiences. Technology innovations don’t only keep customers happy, they keep employees informed and engaged. When organizations invest in technology that improves employee efficiency, they save time and money. This is a universal truth for both private businesses and government organizations. As Government Technology points out, reforming the customer experience in the public sector can advance an organization’s mission and goals, and cut costs by allocating the right resources to the right people.
Government agencies may not be competing for constituents like businesses are for customers, but by operating with a competitive mindset, public entities can look for opportunities to streamline processes, increase efficiencies and reduce costs.
Consumers are used to a more personalized online experience and having information ready on the go. To enhance the user experience, it’s important to provide easy access to information on mobile and focus on personalizing what you can to meet the needs and expectations of your users.
How to Bring About Change
When my customers ask me how they can make a meaningful impact in their organization with technology, especially regarding enhancing the user experience, I ask them three questions. First, what does success look like to you? What goals are you looking to achieve? How can technology help you realize or achieve them?
Accenture suggests that federal agencies first use customer data and feedback to better understand what needs improvement. Second, set a timeline. You’re more likely to achieve a goal if you set a deadline and a plan. Third, challenge yourself to think beyond what you’re used to. To grow, you need to stop thinking in terms of “This is how it has to be” or “This is how it’s always been,” and instead do something that’s never been done.
The way I see it, the public and the private sectors can learn a lot from each other. While private companies have embraced mobility and created flexible working environments, the public sector can look to mobile solutions as a tactical way to get more done in less time. On the other hand, the public sector has implemented top-grade cybersecurity practices that businesses could also benefit from. In spite of the clear differences between government organizations and private companies, at the end of the day we can all learn from each other.
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