It's finally here. That time of year when seemingly half of the federal workforce flees Washington, D.C., for a well-deserved vacation. It's a magical time for those of us who stay behind: Less traffic shortens our commutes, the Starbuck's and food truck lines are shorter, and fewer people at meetings means more decisions get made.

But the feds heading out for vacation are happy, too. They hope to return refreshed and reenergized. This year, I hope they will also come back inspired with new ideas for improving the federal customer experience (CX). To help them find that inspiration, I've put together this list of travel tips:

  1. Fly JetBlue. JetBlue was the highest-rated airline in Forrester's CX Index. It's a solid omnichannel experience across digital touchpoints on multiple devices, and the airline's employees are friendly, helpful, and empowered to fix customer problems as they occur. The company creates a chummy atmosphere, rather than the us-versus-you environment that some airlines exude. As you enjoy the great experience, remember that it has been created despite structural hurdles that include a large and partially unionized workforce, a highly-regulated market, and razor-thin profit margins. If an airline can overcome these barriers, why can't your federal agency?
  2. Visit a national park. The National Park Service (NPS) topped the federal rankings on Forrester's CX Index. So download the mobile app, drop by the visitor center, take a ranger-led tour, stay in a park hotel, and eat in a park restaurant. Along the way, remember that the consistently good national park experience relies not just on highly-trained career park rangers but also on summer interns, volunteers, and a patchwork of contractors and vendors. Consider the bureaucratic, regulatory, and procurement problems NPS overcame to offer such great CX, and imagine how your own agency could do the same.
  3. Make it a learning vacation at the Disney Institute. While the kids are soaking up the unrivaled digital-physical experience of Disney's MyMagic+, take a CX training course at the Disney Institute. It offers one- and three-day CX courses throughout the summer. While you're there, you may run into execs from Fidelity, General Motors, or one of the many other major companies that send their leaders to the Disney Institute for CX training.
  4. Take a Zappos tour. Zappos, the Internet shoe retailer renowned for its amazing CX, offers a 90-minute "glimpse into the Zappos culture" to help visitors understand how it created a culture focused completely on the customer. Federal leaders often tell me that culture is their biggest hurdle, so a look behind the scenes at a company that has succeeded at CX culture will give you some valuable ideas to bring back to the office.
  5. Watch as much TV as possible. Sometimes, great CX innovations come straight from pop culture. In his book, Make It So, Nathan Shedroff reminds readers of great design lessons from science fiction: The original Star Trek TV series' communicator device inspired the flip phone, and the movie Minority Report stimulated development of gesture-based interfaces. Designers at The Mayo Clinic got their idea for a new exam and consultation room setup from the Jack-and-Jill bathroom in The Brady Bunch. Who knows what awesome new CX ideas you'll get from Orange Is the New Black, American Ninja Warrior, or Magic Mike XXL?

For more great ideas on seeking CX inspiration, check out this report by my awesome colleague, Sam Stern. And have a great vacation, everyone!