Trends and Tactics for the Government Customer Experience

The recently released President's Management Agenda (PMA) is focused on the issue of declining trust in government. In the report, this lack of trust is tied to the poor customer service citizens receive from government. In the age of Amazon, Uber, and social media reliance, the level of service people expect from companies has dramatically changed. Citizens expect to be able to contact organizations on their terms (via mobile, online chat, email, phone) and that when they connect with someone, they will have all relevant data at their fingertips. While that has been a reality in the commercial sector, it's a fairly new concept for government.

In 2014 President Obama made citizen service a cross agency priority. Since that time agencies have made large strides in improving how they interact with the citizens they serve. In fact, according to the 2017 ACSI Federal Government Report, citizen satisfaction with government service is at its highest levels since 2006. But there is still much work to be done.

There are a number of government-focused events in the coming months that will talk through Citizen Service tactics. Government executives will share their successes (and even failures) in making good on the promise of government by the people for the people. Here are just a few:

  • AWWA Customer Service Seminar (May 9-10; Kansas City, KS) - The American Water Works Association designed this event to address the challenges facing water utilities in the 21st century, assisting Customer Service Representatives in being responsive to increased customer expectations and expanding global demographics.
  • Adobe Digital Government Symposium (May 15; Washington, DC) - In its ninth year, this symposium brings together government leaders and industry experts to share best practices for accelerating citizen-centric service delivery while increasing efficiency. The event will address the need for executive support for customer experience (CX) as well as include tactical discussion of the design of CX programs and channels.
  • Code for America Summit (May 30-June 1; Oakland, CA) - This summit will explore what it looks like when government starts to design policy with tech at the table. How can policy design become more user-centered, data-driven and iterative? And how could that lead to better citizen service? Attendees will hear stories of citizen engagement success over the past year.
  • 8th Annual Citizen Engagement Seminar (June 14; Washington, DC) - Attendees will discover how agencies are tackling citizen engagement initiatives from digital communications, to data visualization and analysis, to citizen self-service, to social media. These best practices will be discussed in a mix of keynotes, panel discussions, and informal networking sessions.
  • Digital Transformation for Government Summit (June 19-20; Washington, DC) - This event brings together DoD, federal government, private industry, academia, and other relevant stakeholders to discuss the tactics and strategies for transforming IT systems in a way that puts the citizen at the center of services offered online. Speakers will talk about how to create a seamless online and offline experience for users.
  • 930Gov 2018 (August 28; Washington DC) - This multi-track event will include a full conference track on customer experience. It will explore the policies, applications and technologies involved with improving customer experience and citizen services.

Where are you learning about the latest trends and tactics in customer experience and service? Share your thoughts in the comments.

Opening Up Government Through Technology

There's a huge buzz and movement about opening up government. There are three phrases that are used frequently in relation to openness in government but each mean something a bit different.

  1. Open Government - This is a core tenant of our democracy, the belief that citizens have the right to access the documents and proceedings of the government to allow for effective public oversight. While this has always been a practice of government (via the Freedom of Information Act), with the move to digital records the way people want to receive and the way the government can share information has changed dramatically.
  2. Open Data - This is data that can be freely used, re-used and redistributed by anyone. Much of the information the government holds should be open data, but giving people the access they require has been a stumbling block to open government.
  3. Open Source - This is the technical piece of the "open" puzzle. Open Source is software for which the code is made freely available and may be used and changed. Open Source solutions allow people to not only get at the data but also work with that data in new ways.

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Insider Threat Within Government

Whether it's an Edward Snowden situation or "simply" just someone clicking on a rogue link, insider threat is a real issue for every organization. Insider threat is defined as a malicious threat to the security of an organization and its data that comes from people within the organization, such as employees, former employees, contractors or business associates. These people have some level of legitimate access to systems and information and therefore can open an organization up to attack or a breach. One statistic estimates there is one insider threat for every 6,000 to 8,000 employees within a government agency.

To mitigate this threat, government agencies need a combination of monitoring and detection technologies, identity management tools, process and policy reviews, forensic capabilities, and user training.  It's a complex problem to "solve" but luckily there are a number of events and resources available to help make sense of all of the issues.

We've pulled together a list of several upcoming events to help in understanding and mitigating insider threats to any agency or organization.

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An Introvert’s Networking Guide

Whether you are an introvert, an extrovert, or a mix of the two, starting a conversation with a complete stranger is uncomfortable. A small twinge of nerves when kicking off a new introduction is common. While some personalities power through these nerves, or barely notice them, others feel so debilitated they may avoid going to events all together.

Networking can be an important part of growing both professionally and personally. Just as you prepare for important meetings, you need to also prepare for the more casual networking events. Putting in some work ahead of time will help alleviate nerves. We've pulled together a few tips to help anyone get ready for networking opportunities.

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Digital Forensics 101

The digitization of records and processes across government increases the need for sound digital investigation tools and processes. Whether it is looking into a data breach or gathering information for litigation, organizations are spending a lot of time culling through this data to get answers to pressing issues. An IDG survey found that a vast majority of organizations conduct digital investigations on a weekly basis. These investigations range from proving regulatory compliance, security incident response (including post-event analysis), and stopping high risk employee behavior (acceptable use violations).

We sat down with Tod Ewasko, Director of Product Management at AccessData to learn more about the role of digital investigations as a part of everyday IT efforts.

Q: Who "owns" forensics? IT? Legal? HR?

A: The answer is kind of all three. Many people lump forensics in with cybersecurity, but it's really a separate entity. Yes, forensics tools are used to investigate cyber incidents, but they are not preventative. That is what you have the "hunting" tools out there for - watching firewalls and logs for anomalous behavior or activity. Once that is stopped, then the forensics tools come in to make sense of it - to see how it happened and drive the plans to make sure it does not happen again. Forensic tools look beyond the event and gather all data relevant to the systems in question.

Q: Is forensics all reactive then? Continue reading