Making the most of feedback to improve citizen experience

Citizen Experience (CX) is a cross-agency priority and agencies are making great strides to increase citizen satisfaction with government service. While organizations are putting metrics in place to measure performance, agency leadership can sometimes feel overwhelmed figuring out which data to focus on to deliver positive results. This resulting “analysis paralysis” is common in corporate environments as well as government agencies.

As a result of a “more-is-more” strategy, organizations generate a multitude of measures, with equal weighting. Among the plethora of reports and graphs that are generated and often never reviewed, or worse, misinterpreted, organizations lose focus on what is critical to drive needed change. “More-is-more” can ironically result in less—fewer effective changes for everyone in the service delivery chain, which can ultimately hurt citizen experience.

One approach agencies can use to tame the metrics beast is to deploy a balanced scorecard that segments critical performance measures. These measures are then benchmarked and used to measure overall organizational performance. Fortunately, in most cases, the measures are already being captured—it’s the understanding of their significant impact on the citizen experience that is missing.

The best way to describe a balanced scorecard for CX is to look at another, more familiar, balanced scorecard. Based on USDA’s My Plate, there are five food groups that are needed for nutritional health—fruits, vegetables, grains, protein, and dairy. While there are many variations for healthy eating, the My Plate standard serves as a guide to a healthy balance.

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Consider the health of the organization in the same way. Instead of fruits and vegetables, organizational scorecards are divided into the following five sections:

  • production;
  • satisfaction;
  • quality;
  • cost;
  • and people development.

Organizations need to focus on these segments to balance overall performance. Just as in nutrition, if one section takes over the plate, it throws the entire organization out of balance. For example, if an organization has great quality but low production, then satisfaction might suffer. If managers are not looking at the whole plate (e.g. all the measures), they might not be immediately aware of the problem within the organization as a whole.

Where data comes from

Most often, the measures from the balanced scorecard process are generated from systems or process output files. Remember, each component of the scorecard is critical to an organization’s success: production, customer experience, quality, cost, and people development. Agency stakeholders have to keep each component in mind when evaluating how their agency is performing at any given time.

The data that make up these scorecard components come from a variety of sources. Here are a few examples:

  • Operational data.
  • Citizen surveys.
  • Quality scorecard data.
  • Web analytic data.
  • Employee feedback.
  • Telephony technology.
  • Customer relationship management technology.
  • Social media monitoring.

The makeup of the data is just as strategic as the scorecard itself; internal performance measures should be considered alongside external performance measures, or how citizens feel about the services being provided. External measures are driven from survey, feedback, and social media data. Having balanced data provides a 360-degree view of the organization and ensures that stakeholders can productively and efficiently measure the effects of changes they make.

Once organizations have metrics, they can identify variances. Sometimes, they struggle to identify the “why” behind the numbers.

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Why are customer satisfaction levels dropping?

Why are people conversing on a set topic on social media?

What is happening in this part of the agency that is making citizens so happy with their service?

Metrics by themselves don’t answer these questions. Organizations need to take the next step of completing a root cause analysis along with feedback findings to get to the “why.” The information gleaned can also help lead to the “how”—how can the organization fix the specific problems to turn things around?

Listening for and compiling the why

A component of the balanced scorecard is the organization’s quality program. Quality is important as an overall measure as well as a tool for employee development and process improvement. Measuring quality is completed by sampling recorded interactions for all channels against a quality scorecard and aggregating the findings in reports or dashboards. Whether citizens are happy or unhappy, finding the root cause of that emotion—and the interactions that correspond with it—is important.

The same is true for citizen touchpoints on social media. In some ways, social media has made listening to citizens easier than ever. There are plenty of programs, such as Radian6, Hootsuite and others, which help organizations monitor what citizens are saying about them on social media channels. Different social media channels offer different types of citizen feedback.

Website and Facebook comments offer a longer-term, narrative perspective on an agency’s citizen service and experience. Twitter gives agencies the most immediate, gut-level feedback to citizen touchpoints. Citizens are likely to post issues for which they want immediate resolution on that channel.

What to do with the answers

Once an opportunity is identified, root cause is obtained and a solution generated, the specific change is prioritized and implemented — you’re done, right? Not so fast! Don’t forget to maximize on positive trends. Leverage what you’re doing well to sustain success. While success may look different from organization to organization, in general, agencies that identify trends and make decisions based on those specific metrics are empowered, especially by stakeholders, to make additional improvements in efficiency and effectiveness. These agencies tend to be more transparent, which leads to more employee engagement and more citizen satisfaction—after all, if citizens see that their comments and feedback are heard and considered, they will be more likely to give it in the future.

Success begets success; as agencies generate solutions and capitalize on positive trends, they can replicate their findings in other aspects of their organization—or, writ large—they can share their successes with other agencies.

John Loughlin is the director of business insights for HighPoint Global.