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Designing for equitable and trusted customer experiences

November 23, 2021


In brief

Transforming the federal customer experience

Harnessing the momentum

The challenges: Distrust in government and inequity in service provision

“When we don’t meet their expectations, it actually undermines their trust in government. We undermine trust both in our competence and the extent to which we understand and care about those in need of our service.”

— Clare Martorana, Federal CIO

Customer experience feedback: Average ratings across agencies, Oct. 2020-March 2021

“Equity isn’t additional work. Equity is actually meeting our respective mission.”

— Senior Farm Production and Conservation Official, USDA

Four key recommendations

1. Inclusive and ongoing customer research and listening

The problem?

Federal agencies too often fail to include underrepresented or marginalized voices in their customer research.

The solution?

Agencies should create and implement comprehensive, ongoing and inclusive “listening” and research strategies for the customer experience.

2. Integrate services for a more seamless customer journey

The problem?

Federal agencies often focus on improving individual services or service channels, rather than integrating them into a seamless customer journey across channels, programs or levels of government.

Customer experience feedback


Online average


Online weighted average*


Phone/in-person average


Phone/in-person weighted average*

The solution?

Agencies should ensure equitable service delivery across channels and over the course of a customer’s journey, especially for priority life events, following these principles:

“We're looking at all of our services from an omnichannel perspective. Whereas in the past we might have created individual solutions for each channel, that would breed discrepancies between the outputs.”

— Eric Powers, Social Security Administration

3. Improve access and reduce burden by designing from the customers’ perspective

The problem?

People may face excessive barriers to access government services, and federal agencies do not fully consider these administrative burdens.

The solution?

Focus on the full range of customers when designing and delivering services by using human-centered design practices, and measure the impact of efforts to reduce administrative burden.

“We think it’s just good government. It is a way for us to be able to again make sure that we are protecting that data, but also offer that opportunity for people to be able to authenticate.”

— Ken Corbin, Chief Taxpayer Experience Officer

4. Strengthen the organizational capacity for equitable, accessible and customer-centered work

The problem?

Agencies may have the right customer experience policies and mindsets, but lack organizational structure, talent and technology to design customer-focused services from the beginning.

The solution?

Agencies should incorporate customer experience and equity principles into their core processes and functions, reviewing talent, technology, strategy and organizational processes and structures.


High impact service providers taking center stage

Overview of 15 federal services