More than 70 percent of federal employees say customer service is an organizational value. Yet only 20 percent say they have a single leader responsible for it.
Who sets the customer service tone? Who communicates priorities and initiates action at all levels of the organization? Who provides guidance and encouragement on employees’ customer service performance? A leader, of course.
OMB Circular A-11 Section 280: What it Means for Government Customer Service
OMB Circular A-11 Section 280 gives guidance for agencies to enhance the customer experience (CX). By focusing on improvements in five core functions of the CX maturity model—measurement, governance and strategy, culture and organization, customer understanding, and service design—it’s intended to make CX across government more consistent, comprehensive, and robust.
Source: OMB Circular A-11 Section 280
Get the message out about customer service—again and again
Effective communication from effective leadership leads to effective customer service. People need to feel connected to the work they do. That connection has its basis in understanding. An agency’s customer service leader will clearly communicate the CX path for employees and keep momentum going in the right direction through regular conversations and two-way internal feedback.
Eagle Hill’s survey results underscore the criticality of communication. Indeed, 77 percent of respondents say communication between levels of government is a critical element in customer service strategy. Despite this fact, and despite the prominence of customer service in the President’s Management Agenda, only a little over half (56 percent) of our survey respondents say their leadership frequently includes the importance of customer service in their conversations with employees (Figure 1).
Who’s in charge? For customer service improvements, agencies have to be able to answer the question.
Our findings make a compelling case for a more cohesive, centralized approach to managing the customer experience within agencies—and specifically, the value of an agency-wide Chief Customer Experience Officer (CCXO) or similar. While OMB Circular A-11 stresses identifying executives and leaders responsible for aligning the CX strategy and activities within the agency’s broader mission and strategic priorities as one of the major elements of its CX maturity model, 80 percent of federal employees say their agency still does not have a single leader responsible for customer service (Figure 3).
Moreover, with access to top-level information, an effective CCXO can consolidate disparate pieces of information on customers for data-centric approaches to service. For example, a recent Federal News Network article by Anahita Reilly, Chief Customer Experience Officer at GSA, describes how establishing a centralized, consistent and rigorous data flow for all customer feedback, and pairing this data with operational data enhanced decision making, drove millions in savings and contributed to a positive organizational culture shift (“Why Customer Experience is Important to GSA, Government,” October 1, 2018).
Eagle Hill survey results support the value of such an empowered leader. Although still a rarity in government, Eagle Hill found that when their agencies do have a single customer service lead, employees are much more likely to score their agencies higher on critical customer service elements—in some cases, approximately 25-30 percent higher than employees in agencies without a single lead.
For example, federal employees in agencies with a single CX lead say their agencies more effectively measure customer satisfaction; more often provide customer satisfaction metrics to employees; and more effectively measure customer service effectiveness (Figure 4).
The strong correlation between having a defined CX leader and positive customer service results gives impetus to formalizing the role more broadly across the federal government. As agencies learn from the positive CCXO experiences at their peer organizations, we expect the trend toward installing this leadership position to gain rapid traction.
The 2018 Eagle Hill Consulting Federal Government Customer Service Survey was conducted online by Government Business Council between June and July 2018. The online survey included 625 respondents from a random sample of respondents across the Federal Government (including civilian and Department of Defense agencies).
Visit www.eaglehillconsulting.com/customerservice to follow the series.