Working IN the Mission and ON the Mission
There are two primary ways that Technical Assent delivers value – working ON the Mission and IN the Mission. Working ON the Mission means that we serve as advisors or consultants to our clients, analytically observing how well operational systems achieve their customer’s outcomes. These observations drive our recommended solutions. On the other end of the spectrum, IN the Mission services happen when Technical Assent teams become an integrated service partner, taking responsibility for service delivery and are held accountable for achieving customer outcomes. The reality is that many of our engagements require a mix of both, and we prefer it that way. IN the Mission work of service delivery helps us sharpen the saw, reminding us what it really takes to deliver exceptional customer experience each and every day, while our ON the Mission consulting services enable us to see the big picture and transfer best practices among our clients.
Improving the Employee Experience at Veterans Affairs
At the Department of Veterans Affairs, we support a government-to-government (G2G) service provider that aligns with the myVA goal on improving the employee experience. While our day-to-day efforts are largely IN the Mission, we regularly step back and provide recommendations for how to improve the customer experience of our services. This past summer, we implemented a number of process-level improvements that were intended to handle increased transaction volume and maintain the existing level of customer satisfaction. To establish this baseline of customer experience, we conducted post-engagement surveys with every customer that we worked with. At the end of 45 days, the team analyzed the results and discovered an interesting twist. Project Manager Dawn Johnson, explains…
“Because we wanted to establish a baseline, we originally planned to run the survey late in the summer because the team would see a historically average number of transactions. Unexpectedly, we hit our historical average in the first week alone and the momentum carried through the entire period.”
By the end of the survey period, Johnson’s team managed 180 customer transactions, which is more than 300% surge in volume! Johnson and her team had been reviewing individual surveys throughout the period so they could immediately address any identified deficiencies. At the end, they tallied a 93.3 customer satisfaction rating based on whether a customer felt their request was processed in a timely and effective manner… an excellent score by any measure. Again, I asked Johnson for her reaction…
“Well, I am thrilled – the team performed admirably! Our customers really responded to the survey and their incremental feedback gave me the confidence that the process improvements were working as designed…
We also learned a few things too… by signaling to our customers that we cared about their satisfaction, it opened up a new dialogue for constructive feedback. Working with our customers, we identified a few areas where the designed process fell short, and the immediate feedback allowed us to jump on the fixes right away.”
This is hugely insightful. In the beginning, the team viewed customer satisfaction as an end but learned how important it could be as tool for managing the delivery of the service. In other words, customer satisfaction became a way for the team to drive higher levels of performance of the service and help the customer achieve their desired outcome.
While we are thrilled with this achievement, we also recognize there is more to be done. Helping our clients open a channel for dialogue with their customers and measuring customer satisfaction is really just the first step towards building a better customer experience. Customer satisfaction provides a point-in-time metric after the service is provided – it helps us understand what happened but not why. To answer the latter, we need the kind of insight that comes from an ongoing conversation with customers throughout the engagement lifecycle and the ability to respond in real time when they run into an obstruction.
To deliver a better customer experience, we need to get closer to the customer decision process. Initially, this comes down to understanding how much effort the customer has to exert in order to do business with our client’s services and finding ways to make it easier. As we get closer to the customer and understand why they make certain decisions, our team will be positioned to make more poignant recommendations about where improvements to customer experience can better help customer achieve their outcomes.