Service Design for Government
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Hardwiring VA with Customer Experience Mindsets and Skilled Practitioners

Creating a Culture of Design Thinking

A focus on exceptional Customer Experience and improved service delivery is how the Federal Government ensures an effective, equitable, and accountable Government, and it’s how VA lives its core values and mission. To reach its CX (Customer Experience) goals, VA’s Veterans Experience Office is building the VA Customer Experience Institute (CXi) with the goal of hardwiring a CX-mindset to improve service delivery culture. This includes instilling organization-wide standard CX practices and collaborating with colleagues and the Veteran community to create better products, services, and experiences for all its customers. 

Technical Assent and the VA CXi team have partnered to design, develop, and implement expanded learning opportunities across VA in the form of an industry-standard educational platform for VA employees to gain awareness, understanding, and new skills in CX and HCD. CXI teaches best-in-class methods and tools with a VA-centric focus. It uses case studies and examples that are unique to VA to ensure the material resonates strongly with VA’s mission.

Through a set of formalized curricular programs taught by trained facilitators, VA employees will understand why, when, and how to apply CX principles and Human-Centered Design (HCD) methodologies to their work. This enables VA employees to confidently practice and lead CX efforts while connecting with each other to grow a community to share ideas, best practices, and challenges. 

Based on the VA CXi HCD Certification Roadmap, the CXi program aims to create an experience defined by the following dimensions. The pilot is the first opportunity to evaluate the program’s performance based on these six elements.

CXi aims to expand and initiate the practice of Customer Experience across VA, up-skill VA employees, set organizational and standard practices, and hardwire a CX-oriented mindset into the products, services, and experiences that we create with VA’s customers. This work provides an opportunity to standardize HCD practices across VA and connect VA employees across the organization. Building a new culture and mindset helps change and create a new approach to problem solving. 

A Customer Experience Mindset

Within CXi, VA employees will work directly with Veterans to understand their unmet needs and create relevant solutions that center around them. The program encourages employees to approach their work with the customer at the center by applying the following mindsets:

  1. Take your customer’s perspective
  2. Solve the right problem
  3. Embrace Uncertainty
  4. Get feedback early and often
  5. Empathize with your customer

Pilots and Progress

Starting this fall, CXi will  offer the Certificate Program, which is a set of structured courses teaching the fundamentals of HCD and CX through virtual interactive lectures and activities. There were 21 Certificate graduates from the pilot program. Looking toward the future, the team will add on a Fellowship Program that consists of a group of CXi Certificate-holding VA employees who work together and apply HCD and CX knowledge to a real-world project. 

“I’m already using this material in my own workplace and passing it on to other people.” – VA employee

“I liked the experiential way you demonstrated the tools. I feel like I will retain the information because of how it was taught.” – VA employee

CXi aims to be the first of its kind in the federal government, creating a like-minded community of people within VA and investing in employees so they are able to offer the best services for Veterans and their fellow co-workers.

How do you reach across silos within your organization? What mindsets and standard practices have made it easy to provide your customers with the best experience?

About the Author
Suzanne Caldwell is a Principal Consultant with Technical Assent. She is a design strategist who specializes in human centered design, change management, stakeholder engagement, and customer experience. Suzanne spent time at Atlas Research before joining the Technical Assent team.

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