Almost one year ago to the day, President Biden issued an executive order commanding federal agencies to shape up on the customer service front.
“Government must be held accountable for designing and delivering services with a focus on the actual experience of the people whom it is meant to serve,” read the Dec. 13, 2021 order.
“Government must also work to deliver services more equitably and effectively, especially for those who have been historically underserved. Strengthening the democratic process requires providing direct lines of feedback and mechanisms for engaging the American people in the design and improvement of federal government programs, processes and services.”
In the 12 months since, other voices have joined the chorus calling for an improved customer experience (CX) in the public sector.
Just two weeks ago, for example, the Homeland Security Advisory Council released a set of recommendations urging the DHS to take actions including adopting more flexible staffing models and replacing paper-based processes with digital technologies, with the aim of bettering the customer experience the agency offers.
There’s also the recent Partnership for Public Service and Accenture Federal Services report that determined federal agencies “must align their systems with how customers live their lives to deliver a simple, seamless and secure customer experience” that spans multiple programs and agencies.
“The coordinated efforts of many agencies across key functions during the pandemic demonstrated how customers can be better served in times of crises,” said Megan Peterman, customer experience and design leader at Accenture Federal Services, in a statement.
“But truly shifting from a culture of waivers and workarounds to a deeply embedded, customer-centric mindset requires greater collaboration and investment among multiple stakeholders beyond the core CX community—including finance, human resources, legal, and beyond—to address long-standing barriers.”
At least one federal agency has gotten the message about improving customer service at the government level, as the Department of Homeland Security recently announced that it’s on the verge of hiring as many as 100 customer experience experts to help the organization in its customer service transformation effort.
Modernizing the Delivery of Services
As reported by Federal News Network, the DHS says the organization is in the final stages of evaluating nearly 1,000 applicants and plans to make job offers before the end of 2022. According to a DHS official, the organization hopes to have these new hires on board in January, at the agency’s Washington, D.C. headquarters and within its component agencies.
“Our starting point is to hire between 50 and 100 at first, but depending on the quality of the candidates, we are looking to use our flexibilities to hire many more,” the official told Federal News Network, speaking to Federal News Network about DHS initiatives on the condition of anonymity. “We have several hundred roles we need to fill across the department.”
These customer experience authorities are poised to be the first group of workers hired as part of the department’s “technologist hiring initiative,” first announced in September, which is designed to transform customer experience and improve service delivery.
The DHS has set a goal of hiring “hundreds of mission-driven technologists” with product management and customer experience expertise, to support customer experience efforts the DHS has already begun working toward, such as improving air travel, helping disaster survivors apply for assistance, simplifying citizenship and immigration service applications and strengthening information sharing, for example. The organization says it will recruit widely, including from non-traditional backgrounds and underserved communities.
“I have made it one of our department’s top priorities to modernize our delivery of services by harnessing technology and other innovations,” said Secretary of Homeland Security Alejandro N. Mayorkas, in a statement. “Together, we can improve the customer experience for the millions of individuals with whom we interact every day, while advancing equity, protecting individuals’ rights and liberties, and increasing our openness, transparency and accountability.”
22 December 2022
HR News Article