December 21, 2017
How can federal agencies prime for Amazon-caliber service?
By: Elaine Turville

Amazon is among the market forces setting an ever-higher standard for customer service—not just for online retailers but also for banks, airlines, and government. Federal agencies are looking to innovators like Amazon as they work to improve their own customer service. What they quickly realize: Delighting customers is hard work. It doesn’t happen overnight. And while it is enabled by technology, it requires investment and involvement across an organization.

Ultimately, delivering Amazon-caliber service requires digital transformation.

The CIO can’t do it alone. Nor can business leaders or executives. Unfortunately, we encounter too many cases where the mindset is “Let the tech people drive it” or the equally risky “Let’s move forward without IT.” Yes, there’s a strong case for starting with the CIO. However, digital transformation should go far beyond the IT department—engaging leaders and employees from across the agency as well as its customers.

Successful digital transformation weaves together multiple strands, including service design for developing a detailed understanding of user journeys across touchpoints and timeframes. System modernization to deliver greater agility, enhanced cyber-security and sustainable costs. Reshaped processes to support the new customer experience. And a focus on infusing all of the change throughout an agency’s workforce.

In short, I view digital transformation as a framework focused on three pillars: process transformation, a robust change management strategy and the actual technology involved—all underpinned by user-centered design.

This framework is an ongoing discussion with our partners at the USDA, and it is making the rounds of other federal agencies, as well. It’s important that we keep sharing our insights with them and with you. Over the next few months, we’ll be taking a deeper dive on each of the key factors in optimizing digital transformation:

Meeting the mission—and customers’ rising expectations—can’t be solved by technology or service design or process re-engineering alone. It’s an “all-of-the-above” effort that succeeds only when an agency’s people are fully on board.

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