At the recent Story Jam: Digital Transformation Edition, I hosted a panel of expert strategists and technologists to share stories of transformations and modernization efforts – big and small.
Our speakers discussed how government is working to improve the customer experience for the American people. They acknowledged that we now rely on ubiquitous access and just-in-time support in our private-sector interactions. It’s simply the norm. They shared examples of how the government is working hard to model the same conveniences in accessible, equitable and secure ways.
As part of this discussion, our storytellers referenced the importance of focusing on the “complete user.” It’s a thread that I wanted to pull as we all look to implement the December 2021 Executive Order to transform the federal customer experience.
What is a complete user?
I asked our storytellers to further define “complete user,” and explore why it matters in a digital services context. They explained that it is about taking a holistic view of a customer’s needs and considering how an individual or family interacts with government (versus how government agencies’ roles are defined and delineated). It also involves using human-centered design in creating services to meet these needs.
When the full experience of government customers is not considered, the result is fragmentation – a feeling of disconnection between different public digital experiences. The CX Executive Order warns: “The result is that government customers spend too much time filling out duplicative paperwork or navigating multiple interactions spanning multiple agencies just to receive government services for which they are eligible.” In other words, we reflect the government’s structure back to customers and burden them to navigate who’s who and who does what – all without any map. As opposed to being human-centered and service-oriented, it can be frustrating and time consuming.
How do we delight the complete user?
But it doesn’t have to be this way. Kira Prin, Product Development Specialist at the IRS shared the Gov.UK webpage as an excellent user-centric example. The site was designed with the needs of the complete user in mind. It is a hub for government services that boasts “the best place to find government services and information. Simpler, clearer, faster.”
In fact, the design is as smart as the branding. From the landing page, you can easily access all UK government agencies along with popular quick access links and search function. At the time of this article, there are prominent links to updates on the situation in Ukraine, Coronavirus and job search and tax filing resources. The intuitive design of this page considers the user journey by featuring the information that is most searched for. It’s about enabling quick access to all the information that citizens and residents of the UK might need.
So how do we get there?
Our storytellers provided insights on where to begin.
- Shift your thinking
As Jessi Bull from the General Services Administration’s 18F shared, the shift is for government leaders to think about the many needs that an individual may have, versus only thinking about which agency or group has a role to support a particular need.
Bull brought this to life by asking us to imagine, “I am a new mom and I’m trying to get on the WIC program or trying to get health insurance for myself and my family… Maybe I’m also looking for another job, maybe I’m looking for childcare services. Maybe all the above. And so, it shouldn’t be on me as a user experiencing the complexity of life to have to navigate twelve different government websites to get help.”
- Focus on “moments that matter”
The CX Executive Order uses the term “moments that matter” as a filter to identify and prioritize the needs of the user at specific times in their life. It states: “Identification of designated services should be based on the moments that matter most to the individuals served, as illustrated through human-centered design and other research, and on those services’ public-facing nature, the number of individuals served, the volume of transactions, the total Federal dollars spent, the safety and protection of lives, or the critical nature of the services provided in the lives of the individuals they serve.”
Identifying moments that matter, through outreach and analysis, will drive smarter and more customer-centered solutions that consider the totality of services needed at a particular point in time.
- Collaboration is key
By design, government agencies are specialized and have traditionally worked largely in parallel. The Executive Order will require additional communication and outreach across agencies and teams that provide different services to the same people at the same moments in their life. Collaboration and partnership, in support of the ultimate needs of the nation at large, will enable the transformation.
Talk to other offices in your agency and even look to government wide forums. For example, Digital.gov has over 25 communities of practice including CX, UX and Innovation Adoption. These communities are great opportunity to collaborate and learn from others. Such collaboration can help meet the needs of the complete user.
One exciting development that Jessi Bull shared is that as part of the CX Executive Order, they are working to turn USA.gov into the federal government’s front door site. Building on user feedback and human centered design, the team is iterating on USA.gov’s government-wide search functionality to help people better find and understand government services and information. For example, the team recently announced their work to help people better find the benefits they qualify for based on major life events and get connected to next steps. This update (and others coming) will help all people better connect with the federal services they need in the moments that matter most.
For more on this topic, check out the recording of the Digital Transformation Story Jam.