Original Broadcast 8/27/23
This special Fed Gov Today Podcast is presented by Verizon
Customer experience dominates all of the major policy documents and discussions of the federal government today. The President’s Management Agenda, and a series of executive orders and OMB memos, including the new “Delivering a Digital-First Public Experience”, detail the roadmap – and commitment – to making citizen interaction with government better.
In this Fed Gov Today original podcast, leaders from government and industry will focus on the essential elements that underpin exceptional direct interaction between government and citizens. Those focus areas include omnichannel communication, self-service options, and personalized interactions. These leaders will show you how cutting-edge technologies, including AI and automation, are reshaping the citizen experience landscape.
Revolutionizing Public Service: The Labor Department’s Customer-Centric Modernization Under ARPA
Our first interview focuses on the Labor Department’s modernization efforts under the American Rescue Plan Act (ARPA). Francis Rose spoke with Lesley Sheffield, a Senior IT Project Manager at the Labor Department, who detailed the department’s initiatives to enhance customer experience in unemployment insurance services. Sheffield emphasized the department’s shift from a traditional oversight role to a more hands-on approach, focusing on plain language initiatives and providing shared services like ID verification to state partners. The conversation also delved into the broader impact of these changes across the Labor Department, highlighting a cultural shift towards prioritizing customer experience in all public-facing services.
- Transformative Customer Experience: The Labor Department’s customer experience efforts have undergone a transformation, prioritizing clear communication and accessibility in unemployment insurance services under ARPA.
- Collaboration and Shared Services: The department’s approach to provide shared services, such as ID verification, to state partners, marks a significant shift in their role, fostering better resource management and fraud prevention.
- Cultural Shift in Public Services: The Labor Department’s initiatives under ARPA have sparked a wider change in the department, leading to a comprehensive review of public-facing websites and documents to ensure they are understandable and actionable for the average citizen.
How Verizon and the IRS are Transforming Federal Agency CX
Stephen Sopko, Managing Client Partner at Verizon discussed the significant strides in customer experience (CX) improvement across federal agencies, highlighting the IRS’s advancements. With the introduction of over 6000 customer service representatives post-Inflation Reduction Act, the focus was on efficiency in CX efforts, which Verizon has been instrumental in enhancing. Sopko detailed the implementation of innovative solutions like virtual callbacks and natural language IVR systems to manage high call volumes and improve constituent interactions. This transformative CX journey has garnered positive attention from Congress and is a testament to the success of Verizon’s long-term partnership and technology integration with the IRS.
- Implementation of Customer-Centric Solutions: Verizon assisted the IRS in implementing a virtual callback system, reducing long wait times and significantly improving customer satisfaction.
A proof of concept for a natural language interactive voice response (IVR) system was successfully introduced, making interactions almost as natural as human conversation.
- Strategic Approach to CX Enhancements: Sopko emphasized the importance of adopting a cautious and measured approach to integrating new technology tools, ensuring they truly benefit constituents without compromising service quality.
- Long-Term Partnership and Adaptability: The evolution of customer service in the IRS was described as a continual process, requiring an enduring partnership and the flexibility to make adjustments based on feedback and changing needs.
Advancing Customer Experience at DHS: A Deep Dive with Executive Director Dana Chisnall
The podcast interview with Dana Chisnall, Executive Director of Customer Experience at the Department of Homeland Security (DHS), delved into the significant strides DHS is making in enhancing customer experience (CX). Chisnall discussed the agency’s commitment to CX, as evidenced by policy statements, funding, and staffing. She highlighted the importance of considering both public and employee experiences in CX initiatives. Chisnall also emphasized the need for developing specific CX skills, operationalizing customer experience at all levels within the agency, and the evolving role of technology in facilitating better customer interactions.
- Comprehensive Approach to Customer Experience: DHS is prioritizing customer experience, demonstrated through policy decisions and the strategic inclusion of CX in the CIO’s IT Strategic Plan. This indicates a sustained commitment to enhancing both internal and external customer interactions.
- Balancing Public and Employee CX: The focus isn’t just on the external public experience but also on the internal employee experience. This dual approach ensures that staff are equipped with the necessary tools, technology, and support to effectively deliver on their missions.
- Integration of CX in Operational Strategies: DHS is working towards embedding customer experience in all aspects of its operations. This includes incorporating CX competencies in job descriptions, acquisitions, and procurements, thereby normalizing and rewarding CX-related activities across the agency.