The Crucial Role of Customer Experience (CX) in FOIA to Help Build Public Trust

May 1, 2024 / #FOIA

Transforming Government Interactions with Easy to Use FOIA Software at OPEXUS

At OPEXUS, we’re not just imagining a future where government services are as streamlined and responsive as the leading private sector companies, we’re actively working towards it.  We know that easy to use FOIA software is an essential part of operational efficiency, and we also know the critical role it plays in the requestor’s experience with your agency. 

Customer Experience (CX) in government is about more than just improving systems; it’s about fundamentally transforming how citizens feel about their interactions with government at all levels. The President’s CX agenda is at the forefront of this movement, pushing for a public sector that truly serves its citizens efficiently and empathetically. 

What is CX?

Customer Experience (CX) in the government sector refers to the sum of all interactions a citizen has with government agencies. From visiting a website to renewing a license, calling a helpdesk for information, or walking into a government office, each point of contact contributes to the overall perception of the service provided. CX aims to make these interactions as positive as possible, ensuring they are efficient, easy, and respectful. 

Why is it Important?

Enhancing CX in government is critical because it builds trust and credibility between the public and the government. Positive experiences can lead to higher engagement rates, increased compliance with regulations, and overall satisfaction with public services. In the long run, good CX can lead to a more democratic process where citizens feel valued and heard by their government. 

The President’s Management Agenda Mandates

The President’s CX agenda, set forth in Executive Order 14058, outlines a vision for a government that equals the best of private sector efficiency and user-friendliness. This agenda mandates federal agencies to streamline services, reduce administrative burdens, and leverage technology to improve interactions with citizens. Specific initiatives include digitizing services, implementing real-time feedback systems to gauge user satisfaction, and developing common standards across agencies to ensure a uniform approach to customer service. 

The Status of CX Work in Government

Significant strides have been made since the agenda was set. Agencies have been working towards digital transformation, which includes making services more accessible online and creating more user-friendly interfaces. However, the transition has been challenging due to legacy systems, budget constraints, and varying levels of digital literacy among the public. 

The Importance of FOIA CX

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA) is a crucial tool for transparency and maintaining a free and informed society. However, the process of filing a FOIA request can be cumbersome and opaque. Improving the CX of FOIA requests means making the process more transparent, faster, and user-friendly, which can help increase public trust and compliance. 

Improvements to FOIA Programs

To enhance the CX of FOIA requests, several improvements can be considered: 

  • Digital Transformation: Implement an easy to use FOIA software online portal that allows for easy submission, tracking, and management of FOIA requests. This portal should include clear instructions, expected timelines, and the ability to receive updates and documents digitally. 
  • Proactive Disclosure: Agencies should proactively disclose frequently requested information, reducing the need for individual requests and speeding up the process for more specialized queries. Using technology to deliver frequently requested information in online reading rooms can reduce overall FOIA requests, allowing teams to focus on new, unique, and complex requests. 
  • Customer Feedback: Integrate a mechanism to collect and analyze customer feedback specifically for FOIA services to understand where improvements are needed.  
  • Clear Communication: Ensure that communication regarding the status of requests is clear, timely, and useful. Using technology to provide estimated completion dates and regular updates can significantly improve the requester’s experience. 
  • Training and Resources: Invest in training for FOIA officers to ensure they understand the importance of CX and are equipped with the skills to provide excellent service. In addition to technology tools, FOIA officers should seek ways to engage with requestors to specify request parameters, set expectations, and help direct requestors to the information that may already have been disclosed.  
  • Performance Metrics: Incorporate CX metrics into performance evaluations for departments handling FOIA requests to encourage a focus on user experience. 

As agencies continue to push forward with the President’s CX agenda, it’s clear that both challenges and opportunities lie ahead.  

By focusing on enhancing CX across all government interactions, including FOIA requests, we can build a government that not only meets but exceeds the expectations of its citizens.  

At OPEXUS, we are committed to supporting these efforts, ensuring that every touchpoint between the government and the public is an opportunity to build trust and demonstrate the value of public service.  

Let’s work together to make government interactions as seamless and positive as possible and continue to advance CX in government for a better, more engaged society. 

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