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Digitally Transforming the Customer Experience
An opportune time to
modernize CX
Government leaders are capitalizing on the lessons they learned during the pandemic to improve the digital experience for citizens, employees and partners
THE IMPORTANCE OF IMPROVING the customer experience (CX) at agencies was widely acknowledged before COVID-19 struck. But the pandemic made clear just
how much constituents rely on government services. Whether seeking health information, unemployment benefits or the ability to conduct routine transactions while government offices were closed, people turned in droves
to websites, contact centers and other digital resources — often overwhelming agencies that were technologically unprepared for such an influx.
Many of them struggled to adapt to new demands for services and fell short of meeting customer expectations — particularly for self- service options, easy access to information and a user experience that is streamlined and intuitive. In short, the crisis reinforced the vital role that digital services play in ensuring the health and well-being of our country and the continuity of business and daily life.
According to research firm Gartner, “digital maturity in government remains low,” with about 80% of organizations in the initial and developing stages. In another study, Gartner researchers noted that digital transformation “is exceptionally difficult to achieve in government,” and although 67% of government organizations report that they are pursuing transformation, only 5% are achieving it.
“Local, state and federal government agencies are often either still running on analog processes or desperately trying to retrofit technologies to their purposes with limited success,” wrote Anil Cheriyan in a May 2020 article for The Enterprisers Project. He was director of the General Services
Administration’s Technology Transformation Services at the time. Cheriyan named six
key elements of digital transformation: omnichannel experience, artificial intelligence, infrastructure optimization and cloud, accelerators, data and analytics, and identity management.
The federal government sharpened its focus on efforts to digitally transform CX beginning in 2018, when enhancing CX became a cross- agency priority goal and the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA) was signed into law. That’s also the year that 100% of public-sector respondents to an IDC survey said digitally transforming their organizations was a top priority.
The 21st Century IDEA requires executive branch agencies to modernize their websites, digitize services and forms, accelerate the use of e-signatures and generally improve CX. It defines website modernization as ensuring that webpages are user-centered, consistent in appearance, searchable, mobile-friendly and accessible to people with disabilities. To ensure that agencies comply with the act, they are required to report on their progress.
In a recent FCW survey, 70% of respondents said their agencies were digitizing services and forms in accordance with the 21st Century IDEA, while 61% were modernizing websites, 49% were implementing e-signatures and 34% were personalizing content.
A priority at all levels
of government
In a report on its progress in implementing
the 21st Century IDEA, the Department of Health and Human Services said its Centers for Disease Control and Prevention turned to user-
centric, digital-first design principles to handle the spike in demand for online resources during the pandemic. In addition, HHS’ Office of the Assistant Secretary for Public Affairs relied on user feedback to improve communication via and social media, and coordinated digital communications teams across HHS
to ensure that the department’s COVID-19 information met the public’s needs.
The Defense Department reported that
it has prioritized improvements to websites that lack appropriate levels of accessibility and is updating its Forms Management Program to align with the 21st Century IDEA’s requirements. GSA established a new Digital Council to collaborate with the Digital Governance Senior Steering Committee on enterprise-wide efforts to modernize websites. In addition, an internal community of GSA site managers is focusing on improving communications and clarifying expectations related to the 21st Century IDEA.
Modernizing behind-the-scenes functions
is a crucial aspect of digital transformation and CX. For instance, the Small Business Administration’s Loan Review Tool uses self-guided workflows and intelligent process automation to reduce the amount of time employees spend on post-origination reviews by 30%, saving thousands of hours of work annually while boosting SBA’s ability to ensure compliance with eligibility and underwriting criteria. Similarly, a recent report by the Information Technology and Innovation Foundation notes the turmoil experienced by the U.S. Postal Service during the pandemic and encourages Congress to fund research into the use of robots to sort and even deliver mail to save money and increase efficiency
Shutterstock/FCW Staff

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