Weak Government CX Harms Mission Performance

As customer expectations keep rising, governments around the world struggle to improve customer experience (CX). In 2018, Australian government customer experience was weak compared to the private sector — mirroring what we see in the US, where most federal agencies had scores that were poor or very poor. That’s unfortunate, because when government CX improves, customers engage, trust, and forgive; government operations cost less and run more smoothly; and people’s faith in the country rises.

“When government services fall behind citizen expectations from the other services in their everyday lives, their trust in government falls and disillusionment in politics rises.”
— Victor Dominello, New South Wales Minister for Customer Service

The NSW Government Puts Customer Experience Front And Center Of Public Policy

In Australia, the New South Wales government has officially embraced CX improvement as a key strategic goal by:

  • Setting a vision for government CX transformation. A CX vision is a description of the experience that an organization aspires to provide for customers. The NSW government’s Customer Commitments paint a clear picture of what customers expect when receiving government services: ease of engagement, clear communication, and empathy (see graphic below). It is very rare for governments to consider emotion in CX. And emotion is the most important of the three Es of CX quality (effectiveness, ease, and emotion). Having “Act with empathy” in the government’s plans is a good sign that it understands the value of emotion, and an indicator that their plans have some chance of success.
    (Source: New South Wales Department of Premier and Cabinet)
  • Reforming delivery of government services. Established in July 2019, the NSW Department of Customer Service consolidates all customer-facing governmental agencies and is responsible for driving the digitization of government services and CX transformation across the NSW government.

The NSW Department Of Customer Service Is Spearheading Government CX Transformation In Australia

On August 30, 2019, Victor Dominello, Australia’s first Minister for Customer Service, outlined the NSW government’s approach to customer-centric service delivery during a Committee for Economic Development of Australia (CEDA) event in Sydney (special thanks to Austrade for inviting me). The ambitious goal? Match or exceed customer experiences in the private sector. How is the NSW government getting there? Mr. Dominello outlined three areas of change: 1) Focus resources on what’s most important for customers and mission success; 2) Elevate CX design and enablement to make government easy to deal with; and 3) Develop a framework for digital transformation to build customer trust.

1) Focus resources on what’s most important for customers and mission success

To ensure the right allocation of resources to drive CX transformation, the NSW government replaced all committees other than Cabinet and Treasury with a customer-centric Delivery and Performance Committee (DaPCo). DaPCo is comprised of five of the NSW government’s most senior ministers (including the Premier) and takes decisions based on: 1) Customer impact (How does the initiative improve customer experience?); 2) Data architecture (Is the initiative making data accessible, responsive, and modular across government functions?); and 3) Digital design (Does the initiative follow the Digital Design System to help keep the look and feel of government services consistent?). DaPCo requires all government departments to present working prototypes of services, not business cases. After DaPCo’s approval, initiatives move to the Treasury for funding based on ROI or cost-benefit ratio and then to the Cabinet for political decision making. Ministers and agencies tasked to deliver initiatives must report back to DaPCo regularly to ensure that implementation is on track.

2) Elevate CX design and enablement to make government easy to deal with

The NSW government is focusing CX design around complex, pivotal life events (e.g., when a family member passes away). The goal? Create seamless journeys that do not force customers to interact with multiple agencies and jump between touchpoints. And in order to empower employees to better serve customers, the NSW government is investing in technology that simplifies experience delivery and creates smarter workplaces. In fact, this year, Service NSW won the Great Place To Work award, making it the first government agency ever to be named in the top 10 best places to work in Australia.

3) Develop a framework for digital transformation to build customer trust

The NSW government is looking to elevate customer trust with improved privacy, security, transparency, and ethics guidelines. For example, the government is developing an AI ethics framework, a set of principles and tools to help agencies assess risks and procure, build, and implement AI solutions.

To explore these topics in greater detail, schedule an inquiry with me.