Personalization tools can help federal agencies bridge the CX gap

Personalization tools can help federal agencies bridge the CX gap

Welcome to part one of Adobe’s two-part blog on our recent webinar series, Moving Beyond the Basics of Digital Government with Analytics & Personalization. Here, we explore how agencies are using Adobe Analytics and Adobe Target to learn more about users’ interests, the services and information citizens are seeking, and how to tailor content and omnichannel journeys to their needs — all while improving citizen experience (CX) operations.

As more government agencies adopt the tools to digitally transform, government overall is seeing gains in operational efficiency. But efficiency is just one piece of the puzzle when it comes to transforming the citizen experience. To be truly successful, digital transformation must also empower government agencies to engage the public better and meet each citizen at their point of need.

Most agencies are still behind the curve

In 2018, the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA) called on chief information officers (CIOs) to make online services more user-centric by modernizing their websites, digitizing forms, using mobile-friendly design, applying data analytics, and other improvements. Despite this directive, customer satisfaction with the federal government reached “historic lows” in 2021, according to a 2022 report from the Information Technology & Innovation Foundation (ITIF). The study shows most agencies are still behind in digital adoption and that they aren’t doing enough to measure and improve CX via their digital platforms.

“Per 21st Century IDEA, agency CIOs are expected to “[use] qualitative and quantitative data relating to the experience and satisfaction of customers, identify areas of concern that need improvement and improve the delivery of customer service. The need to expand on customer data collection and user research is a common theme across HISP CX Assessments, yet most — if not all — do not specify clear plans for accomplishing these activities with their digital services,” the ITIF report says.

Moving beyond the basics of digital government with analytics and personalization

To bridge the CX gap and improve customer satisfaction (CSAT), government agencies need better tools to help them capitalize on one resource that’s always in abundance — data.

Using analytics, agencies can gain deeper insights into behavioral data like how users are entering, navigating, engaging with, and exiting government websites. They can then use this data to create a unified profile of each citizen’s digital journey. When paired with the right metrics and personalization tools, this information can help agencies make strategic refinements to each user experience like showing content based on browsing history, arranging content more intuitively, geotargeting content, recommending relevant license or benefit application forms, and other customized actions.

Through data-driven personalization, agencies can more effectively deliver the right information to the right person on the right channel at the right time — across all services.

Key performance indicators (KPIs) and why they matter

Agencies that do measure digital CX effectively have at least two things in common — clearly defined KPIs and a unified strategy for managing them.

KPIs are designed to support meaningful data comparison. As a rule of thumb, agencies should define their KPIs as ratios, percentages, or rates rather than as raw numbers. While raw numbers are useful in analytics reporting, KPIs provide greater context, which makes them more powerful. For example, total page views is a helpful raw metric, but page views per visit is a powerful KPI.

Other common KPIs include form completion rate, form error rate, the average time to complete a form, downloads per visit, video completion rate, and average time spent on the site.

Once agencies set their KPIs, establishing KPI ownership helps create accountability throughout the organization. Successful agencies follow a top-down model that assigns four types of ownership roles, each at a different organizational level:

The right organizational structure also matters

Agencies must also consider how they structure their experience-driven organizations. Adobe identifies three best-in-class organizational models that are ideal for managing and activating the customer journey:

While distinct, these structures can be used together to aid end-to-end transformation. Government agencies that want to evolve their organizational structure should consider how they can incorporate elements from all three.

Stories of success in government

These three federal agencies are successfully leveraging analytics, personalization, KPIs, and org structure to optimize their digital performance.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) fights COVID-19 with analytics and personalized communication

The CDC uses analytics to improve content delivery for users of its website, CDC.gov. Leveraging Adobe Analytics to understand what users are doing online (and integrated with other analytics programs), the CDC can gain real-time data and insights to help streamline its health and safety information and make it more accessible to the public.

The CDC began making data accessible and interoperable by moving data in house and creating its own data lake. That meant reducing unnecessary data siloes that limited the agency from having full visibility into all usable data.

Channeling this data through a unified dashboard allowed the CDC to deploy a range of analytic tools to track different metrics for different use cases and combine them to understand the scope of the data in real time.

From there, domain-specific dashboards handled segmented audience metrics like customer behavior, how customers accessed the content, customer demographics, device types, and other information that offered visibility into what services the segmented audiences were seeking.

With the influx of data, teams had to think about which metrics and KPIs would be the most insightful. Good KPIs included the percentage of users visiting on mobile versus desktop, the percentage of return visitors versus single-visit users, and the percentage of visitors who were using the site’s search function. All of these offered insight into how easily users were finding the information they needed.

From there, the CDC knew how to best position the most in-demand information and design the customer journey to accommodate that. In cases where users searched for content, left the website, and returned later, the CDC looked for possible root causes and opportunities to make that content more accessible.

“When we talk about KPIs, the private sector and public sector do not have the same KPIs. Our business goals really revolve around the findability of health information and getting the right actionable health information to the public and various audiences at the right time. So there’s the time component and a tailoring and personalization component.”

Rohit Verma, Lead Digital Media Analyst, CDC

The National Cancer Institute breaks down data silos to empower researchers

To realize the full value of their data, agencies must remove legacy data silos that prevent data sharing and deeper insights. At the National Cancer Institute (NCI), teams leveraged Adobe tools to better integrate and share research data with the aim of empowering its researchers.

Already, NCI had adopted four analytics “pillars” outlining its goals for empowering stakeholders through data:

With these goals in mind, the NCI worked closely with stakeholders to understand their needs and challenges in accessing data. Armed with these insights, NCI leveraged Adobe tools to create customized, interactive workspaces where researchers could explore their own data and locate information more intuitively. These spaces gave users more power and flexibility to delve deeply into their data, allowing them to use filters and different data views to answer more targeted and nuanced questions.

Additionally, NCI trained different user groups on how to navigate these workspaces and even create their own with existing Adobe templates. Not only did this democratize access to the NCI’s data and resources, but it also gave users more decision-making power over how to manage and analyze their content.

As a result, leaders at the NCI have said the agency now operates in a more data-informed, collaborative culture that frequently leverages information to help shape decision-making and measure change.

“When you think of all the components plus all of the filters that they have here, it means that the users can really explore their data in many different ways. They can get all kinds of different views on it, different perspectives on it, drill deeply down, and find the data that answers the questions that are important to them.”

Ilene France, Branch Chief, Analytics & Audience Research Branch, National Cancer Institute

Amtrak utilizes audience segmentation to personalize service for its customers

In 2021, Amtrak serviced 12.2 million passengers nationwide. It leveraged personalization and analytics tools from Adobe to help gain better insight into how users were responding to its offerings, which products led to the most transactions, how different user segments performed compared to others, and various other details.

Because Amtrak provides service nationwide, analytics segmentation was important to understand a range of different metrics and how each was performing across the country. Those segments could range from purchasing metrics, content interactions, how social media campaigns captured audiences, and other data.

Distilling that information provided Amtrak more insight into how products were performing across different regions, which types of transactions customers were making, when customers were dropping off the Amtrak website, and how they interacted with the site organically.

Having full visibility into that data allowed Amtrak teams to analyze and predict customer engagement over time. This allowed them to navigate activity fluctuations and identify when data anomalies occurred and why.

And like other agencies, Amtrak analyzes the use of mobile devices to design its website content. This content was personalized based on which products and information users sought and helped determine the customer experience depending on which brand of smartphone customers used.

That personalized content was also bolstered by audience segment data that could report how much traffic was coming from different language audiences. This informed teams better about which multilingual tools to deploy.

“You can’t improve what you can’t measure. If you want to make an improvement, you have to understand where you are as a baseline and where you want to go. When you look at our business, we have cross-channel solutions on a cross-channel delivery model. So we have a cross-channel delivery tool to help us. The point here is that there are a lot of different analytics tools you can use to meet your analytics needs.”

– Lloyd Sebrell, Senior Manager of Digital Intelligence & Product Strategy, Amtrak

Finding the right story in the data

To gain the edge that analytics tools can provide, government agencies must know what they are looking for in the data that will help serve their mission.

For many agencies, these KPIs will be specific to their agency — but the software solutions can help them find the requisite KPIs needed to help measure success. No matter the mission, data can help illuminate how to pursue it more effectively.

Learn more about how Adobe tools can help agencies use their data best — wherever they are on their analytics journey.

Read part 2 of Adobe's two-part blog series on our recent webinar series, “Unlock the value of data with omnichannel capabilities.” There, we explore the future of customer insights, designing a data strategy to personalize and operationalize CX, and making multiple data sources available to the frontline for immediate action.

Melanie Megregian, Adobe senior solutions consultant in the public sector, and Richard Calentine, Adobe senior value engineer in the public sector, also contributed to this post.