“Several tornados throughout the month, which is unusual for February”1

“Unusually active” start to the wildfire season1

July 3–6, 2023, were the “four hottest days on record globally”1

“The US now experiences, on average, a billion-dollar weather or climate disaster every three weeks”2

Extreme weather and climate events — those that occur above or below a historically defined threshold — are becoming increasingly common and devastating, putting lives and infrastructure at risk in the US and across the globe. With their expertise, advanced technologies, and environmental intelligence, the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) is at the forefront of understanding, predicting, and responding to extreme weather and climate hazards, helping to save lives and reduce the economic costs associated with these disasters. In short, NOAA is a valued resource and partner in codeveloping trustworthy products and information with the private sector, academia, nonprofits, and government agencies at the local, state, federal, and tribal levels to benefit the public.

Roughly three years ago, NOAA responded to the President’s Management Agenda and executive orders on customer experience (CX) and racial equity, which challenged federal agencies to put US residents at the center of operations, with a particular emphasis on underserved communities. With top-down support from Benjamin Friedman, NOAA’s deputy under secretary for operations, and Tony Wilhelm, NOAA’s CX steering committee lead, along with wide interest and participation from NOAA CX practitioners, Forrester helped the agency achieve a five-year CX transformation in just two years.

Moving From Concept To Application

In the past year, Forrester worked closely with NOAA to scale the foundation of CX best practices and tools. The two collaborated on a series of CX pilot projects aimed at accelerating the provision of climate and marine resources to key customers, including leaders in industry, government, and key stakeholders in underserved communities. One of these pilots focused on optimizing the user experience for Heat.gov — the premier source of information regarding heat and health for the nation, managed by NOAA’s Climate Program Office. Forrester helped the Heat.gov team use CX tools and best practices to better understand three main users of the site and their experiences, expectations, and goals related to heat and health information. Through primary research, we validated working personas that the team will use in site and experience design initiatives going forward. We also gathered specific feedback on the current website navigation and features, unearthing pain points and areas of opportunity to improve user experiences (UX).

“The Forrester team brought needed expertise and focus to evaluate how well our newly launched website was serving our users. Working with Forrester, we were able to get an objective view of how Heat.gov was perceived and where we had opportunities to do more to facilitate heat resilience in diverse communities. Based on expert interviews and the excellent synthesis and targeted suggestions provided by Forrester, we are looking forward to making some improvements in time for the next heat season.” — Hunter Jones, climate and health project manager, NOAA

As a bonus, Forrester uses the CX pilots to test and refine CX tools for NOAA-specific use cases, making them easier to understand and use from the CX resources portal without expert guidance.

What’s Next

In the coming year, NOAA is planning to launch another major CX best practice in standing up a CX champions cohort. That effort kicks off with a CX training “boot camp” to accelerate the development of CX advocates across NOAA offices. CX champions programs reinforce and magnify customer-obsessed behaviors and competency by training employees in CX best practices, implementing CX projects, and communicating progress across the organization.

CX pilot projects will also continue. These include one to get reliable future estimates of extreme precipitation into the hands of transportation and water utility planners to future-proof America’s large-scale infrastructure investments.

Another upcoming CX pilot will support NOAA’s Industry Proving Grounds program — an around $85 million investment aimed at improving the weather and climate-related products and services to help key industry partners in reinsurance, retail, and civil engineering build adaptation efforts in service of a more “climate-ready nation.”

Additionally, the enterprise CX resources portal will continue to evolve and increase the number of NOAA-specific tools (e.g., journey atlas development) and case studies (e.g., Heat.gov pilot) in use by NOAA practitioners.

To learn more about how Forrester empowers CX leaders to achieve their goals, win stakeholder support, and mature their organization, explore the Forrester Decisions for Customer Experience page.

  1. “Extreme weather events in the last year” report, Devika Rao
  2. The US government’s Fifth National Climate Assessment report