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OMB Expands Customer Experience Guidance for Federal Agencies

In its annual update to Circular A-11, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) made significant changes to section 280, which focuses on customer experience (CX) and service delivery.

The new changes provide a new expanded definition for customer experience – one that includes equity and designates CX as a priority instead of a nice-to-have.

“A customer’s experience interacting with the Federal government directly contributes to their trust in government itself,” the guidance says. “As a Federal government, it is our responsibility to ensure that every interaction a member of the public has with their government demonstrates competence and builds trust. To that end, measures of experience (including measures of equity (e.g., participation), effort (burden/friction), and those outlined further in this guidance) are of co-equal importance as traditional measures of financial and operational performance, and which this document begins to outline an accountability framework to deliver.”

By infusing equity into CX’s definition, OMB is in line with President Biden’s executive order signed in June that aims to advance diversity, equity, inclusion, and accessibility.

Another key change to the CX guidance that differs from last year’s guidance is the agencies that need to comply with it.

OMB defines the major Federal agencies who need to comply with the guidance as “High-Impact Service Providers” (HISPs). However, this year OMB encouraged all agencies to adhere to the guidance, not just HISPs.

“All agencies should apply the guidance provided in this section for the design of feedback surveys and establishing experience measures for Federal services,” the guidance says.

OMB hopes more Federal agencies will implement the guidance in order to “establish a more consistent, comprehensive, robust, and deliberate approach to CX across government.”

In a LinkedIn blog post, Stephanie Thum, a CX expert and founder of Practical CX, offered more insight on OMB’s guidance and what it means for agencies.

“Overall, OMB’s new guidance is clear: Agencies must move away from strictly focusing on their programs and services and move toward understanding customers, what goes into customer perceptions of their experiences, and how to interweave elements of digital and equity into decisions that are made,” Thum said in the post. “Agencies must understand what they are doing every day in the context of customers’ lives, not just their own programs.”

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