Modernizing the overlooked backbone of government CX

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Two years ago, the federal government introduced the Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government and a series of related actions that elevated CX as a priority. Overall agencies have made significant progress in goals the EO set forth, like user interface or human centered design—but a key component of effective communications remains overlooked.

Regardless of the strength of design, 1:1 communication with other individuals forms the foundation of citizens’ experiences with government. Reliable voice communication is a non-negotiable element of CX, whether it’s the conversation with a citizen looking to address confusion on a tax form or the confidence that they can call to secure needed resources and information during a natural disaster.

Translating dependable communications into improved CX requires going beyond the basics to envision the role of voice and Unified Communications as a Service supporting the way people interact. This means finding ways to integrate the latest advancements, like AI, extending modernization across all communications technologies and prioritizing reliability. 

AI’s role in improved CX

A recent GAO report identified around 1,200 current or planned AI use cases across 20 federal agencies. AI can be applied across nearly every public sector program, including in support of CX and voice communications. Agencies should look for opportunities to integrate AI into these necessary components of citizen engagement, including using AI-enabled virtual agents to rapidly reply to simple queries or arming representatives taking over from chatbots with enough information to support complex inquiries and maintain streamlined conversations. 

AI insights and analytics can enhance productivity, optimize processes, automate tasks and gather insights from citizen or employee conversations. For citizens this translates to faster responses when engaging with agency representatives or more appropriate responses, based on unexpected trends identified by AI. For example, AI may identify a common error that citizens are facing when requesting a benefit, allowing agents to offer a resolution with less information and eliminating the irritation of repetitive questions. 

Modernization in all forms of communication

While the latest technological advancements can play a key role in improving citizen and government relationships, excellent CX also requires modernization to older and often overlooked technologies. Agency communication needs vary, and citizen preferences are inconsistent across demographics, generations and geographic regions. As a result, optimized CX requires modernization to communications from fax to video and voice.

While it’s easy to focus on the technology that gets the most attention, to truly serve every citizen, legacy communication preferences need to be cared for—and secured—as well. This can range from cloud-based phone systems to mobile-accessible fax. 

Reliability: From redundancy to security  

Reliability remains the most crucial element of communications. Five missing words can change the meaning of a response, or a garbled conversation can change a citizen’s interpretation of tone, turning an opportunity to strengthen CX into a point of frustration.  

Scalability, redundancy, quality and security build the framework for reliability that all agencies need. Immediate transitions to backup systems should be an expectation and at least 2x scalability should be built in for situations where citizen demand floods in to support unanticipated needs. Security needs to be holistic across all communications, including elements like access and vulnerability management, incident response, fraud monitoring, audits and third-party testing. Each of these elements is crucial to the consistent availability citizens expect. 

While communications options have expanded in unexpected ways, voice and 1:1 interaction between individuals will always form the backbone necessary for meaningful connections. But technology allows these to improve and evolve, making secure, intelligent and dependable communications—whether between two individuals in the same office or a federal employee and citizen living in a remote location across the country—a reality.

Originally published Feb 09, 2024, updated Feb 12, 2024

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