As a son of a retailer from Allentown, PA, I witnessed firsthand the importance of providing excellent customer service.  It was fundamental to business success especially with a rapidly changing competitive landscape. Rapidly evolving technology continues to hand consumers growing power to choose how and where to buy products and services, pushing customer expectations for superior service ever higher. 


Federal, State and Local governments are being called upon to provide more-responsive service, improved collaboration, increased transparency, and more-proactive efforts to improve customer satisfaction.  On the Federal level, virtually all previous administrations mentioned the importance of improving government service.  Some accomplished great things, some made major improvements, some talked about it, some had minimal impact.  The ongoing government challenge is to have the capability to provide similar quality of customer service on par with what citizens encounter in the private sector.    


The foundational premise of government is to serve the citizens.  Over the past twenty years, DGI’s coverage of the topic took many forms and aligned with the government solution focus of the time.  In 1998, eGovernment was the ‘hot’ topic of the day and DGI produced educational programming focused on government websites delivering service to citizens. 


Early in the new decade, the focus evolved into Customer Relations Management issues with transitional guidance coming from the Educational Advisory Committee members.  This evolved into focusing on the role, capabilities and importance of government Contact Centers which lead to the management and oversight of multi-channel service capabilities.  In 2007, working with the Educational Advisory Committee, DGI changed the name of the annual event to the Government Customer Service Conference.  As the topic evolves, so does the educational focus of the programming.  The focus the last two years was Customer Experience (CX). 


Digital Government Institute looks forward to delivering a platform to gather the service excellence community to discuss the policy, technology, and applications to improve government customer service for the next 20 years and beyond.

Basic standards for website performance include security, speed, accessibility for users with disabilities and ease of mobile access. Unfortunately, only eight percent of the most viewed federal websites meet the basic standards. Many of the federal websites do not event meet U.S government requirements for the web.

Read the full article published on here.

The flagship session at the 2016 Customer Service & Experience Conference at  930gov  just might be the 15th Annual Government Customer Service Excellence Awards.

Every year, we recognize professionals who take customer service to the next level in some of the most challenging environments in government. But as I’m looking at the list of winners and finalists, a question occurs to me: What is great customer service—or to put it in more modern parlance, what goes into delivering a great customer experience?

Great customer experience is both an art and a science

I think it’s important we define and quantify great customer service. Which means we need to think about who defines it. If you were to ask customers what specifically constitutes great service, they’d probably tell you as the late Supreme Court Justice Potter Stewart once wrote in opinion, “I can’t define it but I know it when I see it.”

Ask someone responsible for customer service in an agency and they might refer you to something akin to service level agreements—responding to inquiries within a specific amount of time, resolving issues during a single contact, and other performance metrics. They’d also point to customer satisfaction scores.

These two vantage points define two axes of great customer service. On the one hand, service quality is subjective and ineffable; it varies from situation to situation; customers know it when they get it. On the other hand, service quality has to be quantifiable as goals, activity, and results so you can build process around it, measure it, and replicate it.

When you think about it though, both of these perspectives depend on the same thing: an intimate knowledge of who your customers are and what they hope to accomplish as they interact with you.

My definition of great customer service

I’d offer this definition of a great customer experience: It’s what happens when customers encounter an organization or agent that is fully prepared, equipped, and empowered to answer their questions, requests, and needs.

A lot goes into making this happen but it starts with listening. Very careful, very active listening.

Across the years, Excellence Award winners and finalists all have one thing in common. They are diligent—both as organizations and individuals—about listening. They hear what customers actually say. They hear what customers don’t or can’t say. They connect the dots to understand what customers really mean.

Then they take the action customers are actually looking for. In this way, great service can be unexpected and surprising because it addresses what customers really need, not just what they think to ask for.

Organizations have to be great listeners, too

It’s one thing to listen to a customer on a call, treat them with grace and respect, and help them resolve their issues. People who can do that day in and day out are heroes. But it’s another thing entirely for an organization to enable that sort of heroism as standard operating procedure.

In order to make great service routine, agencies also must listen to customers—so they can define strategies, design workflows, build infrastructure, manage processes, measure performance, and ultimately, enable their representatives to take action.

When you hear the stories of this years’ winners at  930gov , you’ll meet some organizations that do this well. Every case involves listening to a group of customers, then doing some hard thinking about what great service really meant to those individuals in those situations.

I recommend listening very carefully to what they have to say.

The 2016 winners and finalists—as well as all the agencies who were nominated—are all committed to leadership in a complex and challenging field. I encourage you to set aside the time to attend Digital Government Institute’s 2016 Customer Service & Experience Conference and come “listen” to the 15th annual Government Customer Service Excellence Award winners and finalists on  Wednesday, August 24  – you will be glad you did.