State Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) oversee numerous services that keep the wheels of government operations turning. In fulfilling this role, CAOs must orchestrate a host of resources and serve a variety of agency customers.
While efficiency and effectiveness remain crucial goals for any CAO, there’s another “e” that is increasingly important: experience.
New research from the National Association of State Chief Administrators (NASCA) and Accenture helps articulate what today’s citizens expect of state governments. It also reveals exciting opportunities for CAOs to play an expanded role in improving customer experience within their states:
Experience must be an enterprise priority, and the CAO is often well positioned to support it.
Hybrid work arrangements and hybrid service delivery are critical to meeting employee and citizen expectations.
The CAO can become a role model, educating and inspiring through the experience their office delivers to agency “customers.”
By increasing focus and deploying resources to support agencies’ backend work, the CAO can free up time for agencies to focus on the front-end experience they deliver.
Just 55% of citizen respondents said they know where to start when they need help from a state agency. 13 of the 23 CAOs surveyed echoed that finding, citing “knowing where to begin” as the most challenging step in accessing state services.
Why every impression matters
Accenture and NASCA surveyed 1,500 citizens across the country and found that 81% interact with government less than once a month. Infrequent interactions mean state governments have limited opportunities to deliver good customer service.
11 in 23
CAOs who indicated the perception of government services became more positive or significantly more positive during the pandemic
citizens whose level of trust in government declined during the pandemic
Channeling state government services
In our survey, citizens were generally positive about their digital interactions with state government. However, some still prefer to engage via traditional channels.
respondents who indicated digital encounters were “good” or “very good”
respondents who said they still prefer to interact with government in person or via phone
CAOs who said there are “more” or “significantly more” digital channels today than two years ago
Four opportunities for CAOs to lead experience
Given the diversity and infrequency of service encounters, no single state agency can move the meter on citizen experience. An enterprise strategy is essential—and the CAO is well positioned to help in crafting and executing it.
Accenture and NASCA have identified four opportunities for state CAOs to make a greater impact on employee and citizen experience.
Contribute to and coordinate enterprise vision
Improving experience is not a problem for any single department or program; it’s a whole-of-government opportunity. Every CAO has a role to play in driving this enterprise focus.
Enhance hybrid service delivery and work models
Strategically deployed digital approaches can improve some customer experiences, but a good in-person presence remains critical. CAOs can help navigate the shift to hybrid work and service delivery, including examining these opportunities through an equity lens.
Be a customer experience role model
CAOs have countless opportunities to model excellent service. That can include deploying new or enhanced digital tools, but it can also include “low-tech” yet worthwhile investments like listening, empathizing with and responding to agencies’ needs and challenges.
Help agencies so they can help citizens
This is where CAOs can shine. By streamlining and simplifying back-office administration, CAOs can free up capacity for agencies to enhance their front offices.
Advance the journey to better citizen experience
As CAOs work to address the four opportunities, Accenture and NASCA recommend they consider these solutions.
Invest in upfront and continuous insights and planning
Invest to continuously understand citizens’ evolving mindset and needs. This may include the use of design thinking workshops.
Create a baseline assessment of each agency’s/function’s current customer service maturity level. Use knowledge of gaps to identify a plan for change.
Explore customer evaluations of service.
Reimagine the hybrid experience through space and technology
Reexamine and consider which employee functions can be remote and which need to be in person.
Determine where to strategically deploy digital solutions, allowing for hybrid service delivery.
Provide leadership and commitment
Provide time and training to focus on customer experience.
Identify ways to incorporate customer service as a performance measurement for employee performance reviews.
Ride the COVID era
Consider how your state can use pandemic experiences to further shift people, places and processes for more simplicity and greater digitization.
To improve experience and increase trust in government, it’s critical to make every service encounter a good one.
Other collaboration with NASCA
In November 2020, Accenture and the National Association of State Chief Administrators (NASCA) surveyed 32 Chief Administrative Officers (CAOs) to better understand their views on the future of remote work, the importance of diversity, equity and inclusion, and their own role in driving innovation. Learn more below.
The future of remote work for states
As state workers went remote during the pandemic, CAOs observed two top practices: affording workers flexibility and giving them the right technology.