Plan Your Summer Vacation Around Customer Experience Inspiration

Rick Parrish

It’s finally here. That time of year when seemingly half of the federal workforce flees DC for a well-deserved vacation. It’s a magical time for those of us who stay behind: Less traffic shortens our commutes, the Starbuck’s and food truck lines are shorter, and fewer people at meetings means more decisions get made.

But the feds heading out for vacation are happy, too. They hope to return refreshed and re-energized. This year, I hope they will also come back inspired with new ideas for improving the federal customer experience (CX). To help them find that inspiration, I’ve put together this list of travel tips:

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The Customer Experience Portfolio

Jennifer Rice

Who are your priority customers, and how do you serve them? Classic brand and customer experience theory says to focus on the “best fit customer” to drive relevance, yet it is rare to find a case where pleasing only one customer type can help achieve your goals. Case in point: When I took this position at Forrester, I started flying . . . a lot. Yet my 25,000 miles in three months on a certain airline didn’t align with its preset qualification period, so I didn’t receive status, nor am I recognized in any way when I fly with this airline. That lack of recognition undermines loyalty, yet I’m precisely the type of customer whose loyalty it should be eager to gain.

This airline puts emphasis and resources into maintaining an improved experience for its defined priority customer — existing loyalty program members — and doesn’t consider the experience for attracting new customers like me into the fold. While it has a terrific app, the rest of its relatively generic flying experience (including Wi-Fi on only one of 10 flights I’ve taken) does little to motivate me, or any business traveler, to choose this airline over another brand.

When Portfolio Thinking Comes Into Play

It’s true that by trying to be all things to all people, you become nothing to anyone. Imagine Apple trying to appeal to both innovators and technology laggards or Southwest Airlines trying to cater to both bargain and luxury fliers. It doesn’t work. Good brands have the courage to stand for something.

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Customer Experience News: This Week In Congress

Rick Parrish

Each Congress considers over 10,000 bills, and virtually none of them ever explicitly focus on customer experience (CX). However, some bills do have implications for federal CX. And although just 3% of bills ever become law, federal CX advocates should stay informed of proposals from the start. That way, we can suggest improvements, help good ideas become law, and plan for what happens when they do.

That’s why I’m starting this new weekly blog series. Every week while Congress is in session, I’ll take a look at a few new bills that could affect federal CX and offer my initial thoughts on each. I hope my views start a weekly conversation about which bills seem most promising for federal CX and the overall role Congress should play in improving the federal customer experience.

Let’s begin by taking a look at two bills that House leadership recently assigned to committee:

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How The Social Security Administration Hit A CX Trifecta With A Mobile App

Rick Parrish

The Social Security Administration’s (SSA) Supplemental Security Income (SSI) program had a problem: It was paying out way too much in unearned benefits to program participants. This was happening because participants weren’t reporting their income often enough. As participants’ incomes went up, their SSI eligibility went down — but they continued receiving SSI benefits based on the lower income they had previously reported.

SSA used fundamental customer experience (CX) techniques to solve this problem. As a result, it ended up fixing not one problem, but three.

First, SSA and its contractor performed basic quantitative and qualitative customer research to discover why people weren’t reporting their income. The reason wasn’t fraud — it was convenience. SSA had made it too difficult for beneficiaries to report their income, so they weren’t doing it as often as they should. But how to make it easier? Solid CX design methods presented the solution: a mobile app.

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Guerrilla CX For Government

Rick Parrish

Federal customer experience (CX) professionals are trying to wage a conventional war against bad CX. But they usually don’t have the budget, personnel, or authorities they need to win big, decisive battles. That’s why federal CX pros should consider changing their approach and use some proven CX guerrilla tactics instead. To make the most of their limited resources, federal CX pros should use their available data, foster rapid-fire experimentation, and create memorable moments that build coalitions. Here’s how.

Make The Best Use Of Available Customer Data

A formal voice of the customer program with both quantitative and qualitative feedback mechanisms is ideal — and you’ll definitely need one eventually — but you don’t need anything that fancy to start improving your CX. Instead:

  • Aggregate and use the customer data you already have. Most federal agencies have way more customer data than they realize. Even a motley collection of one-off surveys, website and social media analytics, call center logs, and customer emails can be mined to uncover pain points. Don’t worry about painting a photo-realistic picture of your customers. Just aim for a few broad brush strokes that can guide basic CX improvement.
  • Go for big impact by exposing the unfiltered voice of the customer. If you don’t have the data to impress decision-makers’ left brains with intricate multivariate regression analyses, awe their right brains with dramatic quotes and stories of major customer problems. All the numbers in the world aren’t as powerful as listening to a call center recording of a crying mother or reading an email from an irate retiree.
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What Do I Do With My Data?

Kara Hoisington

Part One: Don't Use A Technology Band-Aid 

While kicking off a project last October, a client showed us slide after slide of reports, architectures, and data flows. Overwhelmed by information, the client looked at us and asked — what do I do with all this data? It's a plea for help I have heard on almost every engagement since. Due to this trend, I am starting a blog series answering the question from a multitude of perspectives. Each blog will dig deeper into a particular dimension including organizational communication, analytics processes, reliance on technology, and creation of actionable data dashboards.

Clients usually start conversations thinking they need to re-evaluate their technology in order to more efficiently automate their insights-to-action process. However, after digging under the surface, this is rarely the crux of the problem. Technology is usually just the easiest target. In addition, vendors usually overpromise on what they can deliver.

Due to the marketer’s pursuit of a magic bullet to automate data into insights and insights into action, leaders enter into contracts with solution providers boasting “omnichannel” capabilities that “connect data across channels to personalize communications.” Unfortunately, technology companies rarely focus on or understand the process and organizational changes that need to happen in order to successfully leverage these capabilities.

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CX Interview On Designing The Human-Machine Interface With Parrish Hanna Of Ford Motor Company

Allegra Burnette

Parrish Hanna is the global director for human machine interface at Ford Motor. Parrish and his team guide the design and development of the interior interactive experiences for all Ford and Lincoln vehicles. Through the synthesis of emerging technologies, consumer understanding, and thoughtful physical and digital design, they ensure clarity, ease of use, meaning, value, and safety. We sat down to talk more about the role of design leading up to Parrish’s keynote at CXNYC 2015.

Q: The car is a very personal object. How do human-centered design methods fit into the context of the work that you do?

A: For me, I skipped the whole design thinking thread, because that was just always how I worked and thought — this very iterative, user-centered design being informed by qualitative and quantitative understanding, continuously doing generative, iterative, formative, and evaluative measurement while progressing through research toward understanding. But what’s interesting about our space is what resonates is actually designing for experiences through the application of science, the translation to engineering, and the emotion of design. To me, ease of use and intuitiveness and task completion are just the cost of entry. Beyond that, how do you imbue this much deeper, richer emotional connection to the brand, product, or service or to the experience itself? And for us, it’s in the context of the automotive ecosystem, which is a mobility ecosystem, compared to, say, a transactional website or a retail experience.

Q: How do you go about doing that?

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The OPM Hack Is Bad News For Federal Customer Experience Improvement

Rick Parrish

It’s been a rough nine months for federal cybersecurity. The huge Office of Personnel Management (OPM) hack is just the latest in a series of incidents that make people skeptical of Washington’s ability to protect their personal information. Since last fall, we’ve witnessed hacks of the:

  • OPM. Last week’s cybersecurity failure at OPM wasn’t its first run-in with hackers. In March 2014, hackers broke into OPM networks in an attempt to exfiltrate information about security clearances. Federal authorities claimed to have blocked the hackers from the network, but last week’s OPM cybersecurity failure should make us skeptical.
  • Government Publication Office and Government Accountability Office. These two offices got hacked at the same time as OPM last year.
  • US Postal Service. On November 10, 2014, the USPS confirmed an intrusion into its network that resulted in the compromise of the data of more than 800,000 employees.
  • State Department. On November 17, 2014, the State Department said that its unclassified email systems had been compromised a month earlier. Three months after the initial intrusion, the State Department was still unable to eradicate the effects of the attack.
  • National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration. On November 12, 2014, NOAA confirmed that hackers had breached four of its websites.
  • President of the United States. The same attackers that breached the State Department in November 2014 compromised the White House's unclassified email system about a month later and gained access to President Obama’s email.
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CX Interview On IBM Design Thinking And Designcamp With Charlie Hill Of IBM

Allegra Burnette

Charlie Hill is a software product designer and an advocate for user-centric product development. As distinguished engineer and chief technical officer for design, Charlie is helping to build a world-class design capability across IBM. Charlie leads development and worldwide implementation of IBM Design Thinking, IBM's cross-disciplinary product development practice. We sat down to talk more about design thinking leading up to Charlie’s keynote at CXNYC 2015.

Photo of Charlie HillQ: In the process of bringing hundreds of new designers into the IBM product teams, you’ve created a structured program around onboarding and general training. Can you tell us more about that program and how it started?

A: There are two related things that we focus on: education and activation. Broadly speaking, we look for ways to scale our approach to onboarding design talent and empowering teams with design thinking practices. Those practices are not just for designers. They’re practices that bring the whole team together — and that includes business people such as product managers, engineers writing code, release managers, and architects — as well as designers. When we started our program, we pretty much handcrafted the first few projects. We focused on figuring out how to apply design methods effectively, which led us to create IBM Design Thinking. Then, we needed to create education offerings that bring IBM Design Thinking to a larger group of projects in a scalable way. All our education offerings are now under the Designcamp banner.

Q: How does Designcamp work? Is there just one Designcamp?

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CX Interview On Customer-Centric Design With Kit Hickey Of Ministry Of Supply

Allegra Burnette

Kit Hickey is the co-founder of Ministry of Supply, a menswear brand which creates technically advanced professional clothing. Passionate about how people experience their clothing, Kit leads all facets of customer experience and is the head and heart behind Ministry of Supply’s customer-centric approach, constantly working to incorporate insights that lead to the next generation of clothes. We sat down to talk more about customer-centric design leading up to Kit’s keynote at CXNYC 2015.

Photo of Kit HickeyQ: You’ll be speaking at CXNYC 2015 about your iterative design process, which relies heavily on customer feedback. Can you talk about how this plays out both for your company and your customers?

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