As a customer experience (CX) practitioner, I was surprised to find that an Executive Order (E.O.) from the White House became my favorite CX writing of 2021. The scope, definitions and deliverables included in the December 13, 2021 “Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government” bring best practices for digital transformation to key government agencies and programs. 

This ushers in a new era of government customer experience. You may need to make large changes quickly. Let’s take a look at the E.O. and what changes it signifies for you over a few blog posts and short videos.

Executive office customer experience order: what it is

This executive order expands upon previous executive orders issued in 1993, 2011, 2015 and 2021 seeking to improve government customer/constituent experience. The U.S. Government seeks to: 

  • reduce the amount of effort required by customers to engage with government agencies,
  • increase direct engagement with the government,
  • streamline experiences that involve multiple agencies. 

This executive order describes specific deliverables, assigns agency heads to tasks and establishes feedback mechanisms for continued CX improvement. In this entry blog, we examine three key areas: reducing effort, increasing access and facilitating multi-agency experiences.  

Reducing effort

The new E.O. specifically mentions an intent to reduce the effort and expense required to complete interactions with government agencies. It refers to this as a “time tax” that a customer pays while gathering documents, waiting on hold, checking status, or filling out forms. The concept of “Federal Front Door” uses some state best practices from “No Wrong Door” (NWD) policies that allow customers to apply for multiple services from any of the relevant agencies. The phrase “human-centered design” is used seven times in the document, establishing a best practice of designing around user challenges. 

Effort reduction also includes digitalizing the education, application, updates, and delivery of key government services. The E.O. mentions: 

  • passport application, 
  • checking status of a farm loan application, 
  • applying for importing or exporting fish/wildlife/plants,
  • processing small business grants, 
  • filing taxes, 
  • requesting a document, 
  • receiving healthcare, 
  • applying for disaster relief, 
  • or engaging with other government services. 

Streamlining these processes in the private sector generally leads to higher customer satisfaction with lower operating costs. As you think about your interactions with constituents, how can you reduce their effort?

Increasing access

Increasing access includes a lot of concepts. The most obvious is creating mobile-accessible online processes for customers and constituents to facilitate uploading forms, documentation, evidence, or other information required for a transaction without the need to create physical copies or travel to a field office. This extends the range of support to wherever customers have internet access, removing significant travel time and cost burdens to many rural or tribal constituents. Customers should be able to see status, integrate payments, set up deposits, and correct errors easily across a wider variety of channels.

Accessibility is about ensuring that digital services are made available to customers with disabilities and limited English proficiency. This is not limited to conformance to standards like WCAG 2.1 and Section 508 of the Americans with Disabilities Act, but also to use best practices in clear language, by adhering to the Plain Writing Act of 2010. As you think about the processes your agency supports, consider how you will make services available online to a wide variety of constituents with differing levels of technology and broadband access. It’s also important to consider how you will proactively communicate status through a variety of channels without infringing on critical privacy requirements.

Facilitating multi-agency experiences

For the constituent, and for you as well, this E.O. brings best practices from several leading state government implementations by requiring connectivity across multiple agencies. Many citizens and businesses are eligible for multiple services from multiple agencies. A small business may need to manage loan payments, renew export permits, pay taxes, and apply for a subsidy. A retired disabled veteran may interact with the government for healthcare, prescriptions, social security, income tax, and other services. Before this E.O., the business and citizen would separately gather their relevant documentation, submit applications, check status, and handle any issues. In the future, inter-agency coordination will reduce the effort, as well as the cost, to serve.

Back in 2014, several federal administrations provided grants to states to implement “No Wrong Door” systems to make it easier for individuals to learn about, apply for, and manage benefits that span multiple agencies. This 2015 presentation explains Hawaii’s ”No Wrong Door” policy, which turned out to be successful in terms of improving constituent customer experience and reducing costs.

If your agency is new to this, you will likely have to make some major changes. However, these changes will help you deliver better service at a lower cost by leveraging data and application process infrastructure from other agencies. Sharing data across agencies:

  • reduces the application burden on the customer, 
  • reduces the opportunity for errors by eliminating redundant data entry, 
  • and streamlines the UX layers of the processes you support.

Looking forward in government CX 

With this E.O., we start a journey that will improve the customer experience for hundreds of millions of transactions. With expectations leveling up, this significantly raises the bar for other state and local agencies as well. While this will require effort and attention, the ROI has been proven at the state level and improves outcomes while lowering the costs to serve. Join us next time as we explore how some of the key definitions impact customer experience for key processes.


Scott Draeger

Scott Draeger

VP of Customer Transformation

Scott joined the industry in 1997, after earning a B.A. from University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He started as a document designer using several VDP technologies, before moving to the software side of the industry. He has more than 17 years of experience in the document composition software industry as both a transactional document designer and a software vendor. He earned his EDP and M-EDP certification from Xplor and his MBA in 2007 from the Lake Forest Graduate School of Management.

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