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A recent Forrester report1 (access requires subscription) by Rick Parrish says that initiatives put in place by the U.S. government to improve the customer experience “will start to bear fruit in 2015, as agencies finally break out of their find-and-fix cycle and start making substantive improvements.”*

Kudos to the U.S. government for recognizing the importance of an improved customer experience for its citizens—and for taking steps to make it a reality. After all, citizens already use the Web and mobile phones for almost everything—from making inquiries and paying bills to browsing and buying services with their banks, insurance providers and online music and video streaming services.

And, these digital citizens now have the same level of expectations when interacting with local, state and federal public sector organizations. They want to use their preferred communication channels to engage with your organization as they currently do with their bank, mobile carrier and favorite stores.

To achieve this improved customer experience, the U.S. government rolled out the U.S. Digital Services Playbook in August 2014, which consisted of 13 “plays” that provide guidance to federal chief information officers (CIOs) trying to improve their digital customer experience.

The U.S. government has set ambitious goals for itself and is working on a host of smart customer experience initiatives, such as the federal feedback button (a standardized, cross-agency customer feedback mechanism), new customer experience standards, and customer awards for frontline employees. The administration is also focusing its early efforts on the federal experiences that affect the most citizens — such as Transportation Security Administration (TSA) screening, veterans’ benefits, and social security.

If history is any indication, then the U.S. should be successful in this endeavor. After all, the U.K. had already taken similar steps in 2012. It created the Government Digital Service (GDS) with the goal of rebuilding and redesigning 25 significant “exemplar” services by 2015. In October 2014, the GDS reported that it expects 20 of its 25 planned exemplar services will be publicly accessible by late March 2015.

Our work with government and public sector organizations worldwide has given us firsthand insight into the specific challenges faced by these organizations in optimizing their customer engagement. And the actions taken by the U.K. and U.S. governments confirm what we at Verint have been expounding on for a while now—moving to digital citizen service is the key to unlocking substantial business benefits not previously enjoyed in the public sector.

I believe that Rick is spot on in his assessment of the U.S. government’s efforts at moving to digital customer service. The seeds have been planted and properly cultivated, as was done in the U.K. Soon, in the U.S. and the U.K., those seeds should blossom into healthy, robust digital organizations ready to provide its citizens with the service experience they desire and demand.

*1Forrester Research, Inc., Predictions 2015: Federal Customer Experience Finally Turns The Corner

November 7, 2014 (Rick Parrish with Harley Manning, Corey Stearns)

David Moody is Vice President and Global Practice Leader, Government and Public Sector, at Verint