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August 08, 2022

A Holistic Approach to Service Delivery: Customer Experience (CX) CoE asks, ‘Are your customers at the center?’

By the Customer Experience Center of Excellence

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As a follow up to the publication of our CX Maturity Model, the Customer Experience (CX) CoE hosted a CX Maturity Model office hour to help federal government agencies better understand CX maturity and its evolution. More than 65 employees from 34 federal agencies attended the event featuring a Q + A with CX CoE Leads, where they answered questions about improving service aspects of CX and approaches for holistic transformation.

The recent executive order on transforming federal customer service has put a spotlight on delivery. While it holds 17 agencies accountable for 36 specific commitments, it is a universal call to action.

The order is a nudge towards CX CoE Leads not just changing, but holistically transforming how they provide services to their customers by requiring agencies to put them at the center of service development.

In July 2022, we published the CX Maturity Model for organizations. This model was designed to improve their efficiency by assessing the current state.

How Mature is our Org?

Federal agencies fit into one of these five levels of CX maturity:

  • Reactive: Agencies with a rudimentary understanding of their customers
  • Tactical: Agencies who have had occasional forays into customer research, usually as part of larger IT projects
  • Strategic: Agencies with enough customer-related initiatives to warrant aligning research and analysis efforts
  • Foundational: Agencies whose CX efforts are coordinated and fit very intentionally within well-articulated strategies
  • Customer-centric: Agencies structured primarily around the measurable satisfaction of their customers’ needs

Who are our Customers?

Having well-defined customers and a clear understanding of their needs is central to improving or introducing a service.

Get to know your audience

  • There is no single “target customer.” When defining customer types it’s important to consider the many communities, identities, races, ethnicities, backgrounds, abilities, cultures, and beliefs they offer.
  • Opportunities to reflect underserved communities should be aggressively pursued. Diversity, Equity, Inclusion and Accessibility (DEIA) and CX are inextricably linked.
  • Conducting interviews help bring the customer along as you learn more about them. It is important to broaden the scope of your customer base and provide the services they need.
  • With a deeper level of customer knowledge, your strategies and tactics for maturation will greatly improve.

What do our customers need?

Sometimes, the customer doesn’t consider things that are in fact essential to the overall experience. The service design process works by identifying the customer’s needs first in order to deliver a comprehensive and valuable design.

In CX, an interdisciplinary blend of design, development and organizational expertise come together to improve the experiences of both internal and external customers. The transformation often extends past digital services into supporting policies, internal processes and governance structures.


The following questions were presented at the CX CoE Maturity Model Office Hours.

How might we help bring about awareness and prioritization of cross-channel and, especially, cross-agency experiences (i.e., beyond digital)?

Conduct customer and staff research together.

  • Customer and staff research should explore the end-to-end experience of achieving a goal and the inner workings of that service. This helps expose the interconnectivity of processes, people, data, tech and culture.
  • Walking through the experience of a customer having a need until that need is fulfilled and beyond is essential. Understanding the need and the steps needed to fulfill it provides a holistic view of the process. It also reveals potential barriers and problems that can arise with any channel. This information can be visualized as a journey map or service blueprint when you include the backend processes that support the experience.
  • For example, the experience of filing for benefits at a federal housing organization stems from a need. Receiving the benefit after going through the process helps the customer provide a home for their family and is achievable. ####Make the research process inclusive.
  • Bring service staff and leadership along for the research so they see first hand how customers experience the service and how all of those components - tech, policy, data and process - support or don’t support a good experience.
  • Involve customers with diverse needs and backgrounds in your research to ensure you understand and can address the unique needs of your various customers.

    Tap into how the experience feels, beyond whether things work or not.

    While conducting interviews with customers and staff, ask questions that tap into the emotions the experience evokes. For example, if a customer’s feedback is that they are not able to get the status of their case easily, asking how that made them feel can provide data that goes beyond the digital experience.

How can CX staff (in general) better connect improved service design/delivery with the more bureaucratic/operational issues and KPIs that senior government leaders care about?

Weave CX into planned initiatives.

  • Identify what leadership is already improving and ask to support using CX principles.
  • Look at how using CX principles may help achieve those metrics that leadership cares about.
  • To identify leadership focus, the strategic or annual performance plans, executive orders and new legislation can help provide ideas about what’s important and where CX as a problem solving approach makes sense.

What does the future of CX look like in the federal government?

The future is bright. As OMB A-11 begins to evolve its guidance, more and more agencies will take on the challenge of being as customer-centric as possible. Thinking about customer centricity would be a change in how agencies do business, but we believe as the government sees the benefits of improving customer experience on operational metrics as well as trust, there will be less talk around whether it is important and more on how we improve CX.


The event was seen as very valuable for all participants. Key feedback included:

“I’m glad that the CX ‘Maturity Model’ for the federal government specifically was finally introduced.”

“Value mapping sounds like something that would help and something I want to research more.”

July’s CX Office Hours was inaugural and participant feedback will be included in any future session. Office hours and workshops are part of CoE’s new collection of Resources & Advisory Support. Stay tuned for future CoE CX workshops!

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