The benefits of a customer-centric strategy aren’t limited to private-sector businesses.

Government agencies at every level can gain by putting the needs and wants of citizens first.Across the business landscape, savvy executives are increasingly asking the same question: What do my customers want?

They are coming to realize that, whatever they offer, they are in the customer-experience business.

Technology has handed consumers growing power to choose how and where to buy products and services, and customer-friendly leaders such as Amazon and Apple steadily raise customer expectations for superior service ever higher.

We find that how an organization delivers for customers is beginning to be as important as what it delivers. Our research shows that companies that systematically put customers first create inroads against competitors, build cultures that benefit employees as well as customers, and improve the bottom line from both the revenue and cost sides.

The customer-experience phenomenon

This may seem far removed from the work of federal, state, and local governments, but it offers important lessons. True, agencies rarely have a direct competitor from which they are trying to capture market share. Nor do disruptive start-ups typically emerge to steal their customers. Yet the rationale for agencies to improve the citizen experience may be just as powerful.

For enhancing an agency’s ability to achieve its stated mission, outperforming in efforts to meet budget goals, and engaging employees in a superior culture of citizen service, customer-experience improvement efforts offer public agencies far-reaching lessons.

Central to any successful customer-experience program is a focus on identifying, understanding, and mastering the customer journey: the complete end-to-end experience customers have with an organization from their perspective.

In essence, improving citizen experiences requires more rigorous effort to improve citizen journeys across channels and products. Like customer-focused businesses, most agencies focused on serving citizens typically think about touchpoints: the individual transactions through which citizens interact with the agency and its offerings. But this siloed focus on individual touchpoints misses the bigger, and more important, picture: the citizen’s end-to-end experience.

Only by looking at the citizen’s experience through his or her own eyes—along the entire journey taken—can you really begin to understand how to improve performance meaningfully.

Read all: Improving the customer experience to achieve government-agency goals | McKinsey & Company

My point of view: Looking at many government agencies there is a world to win choosing such an approach. But legislation, politics, back-log technology and a resistance to change are major obstacles.

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