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Forrester recently published a report (access requires subscription) about U.S. government customer experience performance, which states that “Federal agencies are failing the administration’s mandate to offer customer experiences (CX) that match the best of the private sector.”1

In a previous blog, I talked about how the U.S. government put plans in place to change this, just as the U.K. government did a few years earlier.

But, this got me to thinking. When it comes to federal or local government—or other public sector agencies—just what makes up great customer experience? Is it the same as in the private sector?

In short, the answer is yes.

Citizens want to interact with governments and public sector agencies in the same way that they interact with their cell phone providers or insurance carriers. They want to find the information they need at any time, take care of several issues on their own (Web self-service) or know that someone will be there to answer a question—be it via live chat or phone.

Citizens want you to know them, to understand what they are trying to accomplish and the journey they’re on. They want to be able to complain or make suggestions, be it to a contact center agent or through social media. And, they expect a rapid reply and quick action.

In the private sector, companies talk about customer loyalty. Customer engagement improvements—including creating a robust website so customers can quickly find answers or integrating systems so agents have all the data they need on a single screen to most effectively serve customers—have been undertaken to not only improve the customer service experience but also to keep them brand-loyal.

In today’s digital world, it is easy to switch from one provider to another. Companies can no longer count solely on brand loyalty. Customers are more likely to stay with you if they have an easy and pleasurable experience with you during a transaction.

While government agencies do not talk about customer loyalty per se, they do talk about specific aspects of loyalty:

Compliance: following the agency’s directives or advice

Expansion: engaging with the agency even when it is not required, and

Advocacy: saying positive things about the agency to other people.

To fully understand these interactions, governments and public sector agencies must measure them in some meaningful way. Solutions such as Verint® Enterprise Feedback Management can help governments learn about citizens and proactively engage them on their preferred channels.

Gathering feedback from citizens proactively makes them feel listened to and that their opinions truly matter, empowering them to further engage with you.

In the private sector, engaged customers help increase sales, provide more positive feedback and improve brand recognition. In the public sector, engaged citizens help improve the overall health of neighborhoods and cities—potentially offering a better quality of life for all.

Those are admirable goals and are completely worth the investment. And, if governments and public sector organizations continue to invest in the right customer experience solutions and tools—perhaps they will soon match the private sector.