AI-powered digital tools can automate and augment customer service for a more satisfying and intuitive citizen experience​

Customer service leaders at federal agencies face distinct and significant challenges. Their mission is to serve all Americans, including many populations that are difficult to reach. To deliver these vital services, they often have to overcome unique policy constraints, legacy technology and inconsistent data, and tight budgets. Driven by liquid expectations that use our best service experiences as our personal benchmark, citizen and policy makers are also demanding more as commercial customer service leaders continue to raise the bar.

At Federal Computer Week’s Citizen Engagement Summit, I had the pleasure of discussing these issues with Mariela Melero, Chief of the Office of Citizenship and Applicant.

External Affairs Directorate at U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services. Having spearheaded such innovations as MyUSCIS and Emma, one of the first public chatbots in the federal government, Mariela is a recognized visionary and leader in customer service in government.

What became clear is that simply throwing more staff and resources at the problem isn’t a scalable solution. Rather, automation is increasingly needed to serve a growing audience with more diverse and complex needs.


In some cases, this means chatbots and virtual digital assistants to automate routine tasks and power self-service options. In other situations, AI-based tools can take advantage of machine learning to become intelligent, augmenting the performance of CSRs with recommendations for resolving specific queries.

Similar to the way that Chipotle has revolutionized restaurant ordering, commercial leaders are looking to use AI and automation to deliver more intuitive and intelligent customer service. These same approaches have a home in government as well, with a goal of empowering more satisfying self-service options. This will allow CSRs to focus their time on the balance of more complicated queries requiring personalized attention.

Interested in learning more? Our full conversation is available on YouTube with a written synopsis—Taking Customer Service to the Next Level—available for download as well.

Chris Zinner

Managing Director – Accenture Federal Services, Digital & Customer Experience

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