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Fellow Perspectives: Improving customer experience for the public across life experiences

Samantha Noshin Noor, Kennedy Alexis, Louisa Sholar

October 3, 2023

  • Design
  • Product Management
  • Public experience
  • HHS
  • HRSA

In December 2021, President Joe Biden signed the Executive Order on Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government. The Executive Order laid out a new vision for customer experience (CX), defined as the public perception and overall satisfaction with interactions with any government agency, product, or service, to be prioritized under the President’s Management Agenda. As part of the Executive Order’s mandate, federal agencies have been asked to focus on significant events or transitions that members of the public encounter in their lives (“life experiences”) that often require interactions and touchpoints with multiple federal agencies. These inaugural “Life Experience” projects aim to improve government CX across the lifespan from birth through retirement and to build a new, human-centered approach to government.

Today, on “CX Day”—October 3, 2023—hear from our fellows supporting two of the inaugural LE projects at the Department of Health and Human Services: Having a Child and Early Childhood and Facing a Financial Shock,

Having a Child and Early Childhood

Samantha Noshin Noor, Design Fellow

In 2021, 41% of births in the U.S. were covered by Medicaid, the government program that provides health coverage to people with limited financial resources. These numbers underscore the meaningful impact of government support and raise a critical question: how many more people require support but remain unconnected? The Having a Child and Early Childhood life experience team aims to address this gap by increasing support for mothers and caregivers of young children. My role involves implementing a Benefits Bundle pilot, connecting families with peer navigators in their communities to deliver a person-centered benefits enrollment experience.

Drawing on trauma-informed practices and service design, I collaborate with communities to vision cast and refine an enhanced CX. This involves delving deep into their context, needs, and impacts of the current system. A critical aspect of my work includes relationship-building with communities through site visits, community dialogue sessions, and gathering feedback as the pilot unfolds. This ensures that the voice of the community is integrated into the services we are delivering. Beyond simplifying the benefits enrollment process, we are also fostering shared community experiences and improving health outcomes of families during this critical phase of their lives. Our goal goes further than just improving government CX; it aims to initiate systemic change from the grassroots and rebuild trust in government along the way.

Facing a Financial Shock

Kennedy Alexis, Product Management Fellow

Good CX is the outcome of incorporating human-centered design intentionally into our processes, policies, and digital services. All too often, accessing benefits has felt like a very tedious and grueling process for many families in need. In 2015, Michigan had the longest benefit application at 40 pages and with the help of design experts who incorporated human-centered design practices and research into their processes, Michigan’s application has reduced by 80%. What was once a formidable barrier for 2.5 million Michigan residents, is now an example of how the government can deliver good CX. On the Facing Financial Shock Accelerator team, our mission is to support states to replicate and deliver this level of impact to their residents. We are doing so by understanding state individualized and collective pain points in benefit delivery, providing them with the educational and technical resources to improve their systems. Ultimately, this will provide Americans with clear pathways for finding, applying, and receiving benefits quickly and easily.

As the Product Fellow, it is my role to make sure we’re building the right thing. To do so, I’ve supported the implementation of human- centered design facilitation strategies to ensure that we’re correctly understanding user problems and am continuously incorporating agile methodologies into our processes. FFS has also been a cross-agency project where we are continuously breaking the silos within government to ensure we’re learning from each other and building deliverables that can impact CX at benefits delivery agencies across government.

Louisa Sholar, Design Fellow

As a designer, I draw on a variety of disciplines and subdisciplines in my work, including user experience, accessibility, content strategy, and, most importantly, service design. In service design, my colleagues and I aren’t just thinking about digital products. Service design is about the entire ecosystem of what it takes for a service to be provided and delivered, fully considering all stakeholders, touchpoints, and circumstances. While the digital delivery of benefits is a critical focus area for states and the federal agencies that oversee specific programs, as Kennedy mentioned, not all of our deliverables or efforts will have a technology-specific output.

In my role, I help ensure the resources we develop for states reflect key design and service design best practices and help guide our working groups through the design and discovery sprints we use to gather feedback. I’m also helping design a new federal benefits evaluation framework that will encourage states to focus on program outcomes and CX metrics rather than fraud detection and program integrity alone. By leveraging that approach, we hope to drive culture at the local, state, and national levels to redefine what success should look like within benefits delivery and make metrics consistent across programs. That’s part of what makes working on a Life Experience project unique within government: when we explicitly center members of the public and their needs in terms of policy or program outcomes, we often end up with different strategies to better meet those goals.

U.S. Digital Corps Fellows work on high-impact projects across government. Applications for our 2024 Fellow cohort will open this fall. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Twitter and LinkedIn to stay updated on upcoming events and opportunities to apply.

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