Improving Customer Service: How to Deliver Service That Benefits Your Agency & Enhances the Customer’s Experience
POINT OF view
Improving Customer Service:
How to Deliver Service That Beneﬁts Your
Agency & Enhances the Customer’s Experience
Our inter-connected digital world has changed customer trends and affected their expectations–
customers want high-quality service that interacts with them on their time and their terms.
Although agencies have recognized the need for improved service delivery and the Executive
Order 13571 has established a mandate, they in general continue to struggle to develop &
implement the transformative strategies to meet rising customer expectations. A recent
MeriTalk survey finds that 79% of Americans still believe the Federal government needs to
improve customer service.
With the increasing pressure on government agencies to provide highly effective customer service
while continuing to streamline processes and reduce costs, they must embrace new technologies
in order to keep their services relevant to their customers. There are several principles that have
changed how customers want to interact with your agency:
• Your customers live in an interconnected digital world.
Almost 90% of decisions are now being influenced by digital interactions.
• Your customer service must be immediate and direct.
Customers are now always on and want service that fits into their digital fingertips
regardless of device, location, time of day or type of organization.
• Your organization’s reputation is critical and valuable.
It can be costly if your customer service strategy is not effective due to:
• Distraction costs: As we have seen in many recent contemporary cases, customers
are eager to act upon what they perceive as either bad service, lapse of judgment or
ignorance. In today’s world, customers can amplify their voices – provide comments
on the service, organize themselves, affect public opinion and your reputation – and
cause your agency to manage a potential crisis in a reactive mode. If customers are
dissatisfied, you can experience costs of chaos, disruption management and eventual
• Operational costs: You are asked to do more with less every day. Without effective use of
digital technologies, the cost of your existing services will drive your agency into tighter
spending controls and disable successful mission execution.
• Your customers want service that is contextual and personalized. They now demand this
of government agencies as much as they do with their favorite global consumer brand(s).
The days of mass communications are over - customers require interactions that are aligned
with their specific situation and tailored to their understanding of the world.
POINT OF view
In order to meet these principles, agencies should embrace customer service concepts that
• Service Instancy – The customer is a consumer of your organization’s information or services
and is driven by a need that has direct urgency (e.g., job loss, natural disasters, health crisis,
etc.). Customer service should first and foremost address customers in a big, clear and
impactful way around these direct urgencies since they represent the core service functionality.
• Service Adjacency – The customer is also a consumer of other organizations’ information
and/or services, in addition to one linked with direct urgency. The urgency should be used as
a point of reference to suggest additional ways the organization can add value. For example,
a person seeking a job may also need additional information about food stamps should build
these adjacencies to complement core functionality.
• Service Engagement – Organizations need to provide services and information to the
customers in a way that is both engaging and visually accepting. Our research shows that a
disengaged customer is more prone to perceive lower satisfaction with the organization than
an engaged customer is when receiving the same type and quality of service. The greatest
service idea falls short if its implementation and presentation falls short.
Developing a customer service strategy requires a systematic approach. Sapient recommends the
four step approach outlined in Figure 1. Agencies should start with their Mission and Goals and
full understanding of the customer needs and personas, which are describing general customer
behaviors. This understanding will enable agencies to find right opportunities and solutions to fulfill
its mission and meet their customers on their terms. A fully thought-out framework and roadmap
will enable successful implementation.
How do you stay relevant? Your customers will interact with
you on their terms - however they want, at any time, using
any device, for whatever they need. Your responsibility is
to be there. Sapient’s customer service approach focuses
on your customer touchpoints through the development of
strategy and supporting technology to create meaningful
and personalized customer experiences on a national scale.
ABOUT SAPIENT GOVERNMENT SERVICES & CAPABILITIES
Sapient Government Services, a division of Sapient, is a leading provider of consulting, technology, and
marketing services to a wide array of U.S. governmental agencies. Focused on driving long-term change
and transforming the citizen experience, we use technology to help agencies become more accessible
and transparent. With a track record of delivering mission-critical solutions and the ability to leverage
commercial best practices, we serve as trusted advisors to government agencies such as the Federal
Bureau of Investigation, Library of Congress, National Institutes of Health, United States Department of
Health and Human Services, and United States Department of Homeland Security.
Government managers must
learn from what is working
in the private sector and
apply these best practices to
deliver services better, faster,
and at lower cost.
– Executive Order 13571
What are your
Who is your
Where are the
What is the
Figure 1: The four step approach