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GAO, VA are Leveraging Data to Improve Customer Experience

Data leaders from GAO and VA discuss how they’re collecting user feedback to improve CX.

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The Department of Veterans Affairs and Government Accountability Office are turning to data to drive customer experience advancements.

VA’s Veteran Experience Office is leveraging data from surveys to improve its digital services and platforms, Evan Albert, the office’s director of Measurement and Data Analytics explained at the 2022 FCW Government Customer Experience & Engagement Summit Wednesday.

“We’ve established an enterprise-wide data collection and reporting and analysis system called Veteran Signals (V-Signals),” Albert said. “We’re able to collect survey data and other listening tool data from veterans across all different lines of business from which veterans are interacting with the VA.”

Launched in 2017, V-Signals gathers veteran information after their appointments to provide feedback and rate the agency on trust, ease, empathy and effectiveness. The survey enables real-time insights, which helps VA improve performance reviews and make corrective actions.

The data drawn from V-Signals enabled VA to implement a five-point customer service program focusing on open communication, employee recognition, WECARE leadership rounding, team building and trust. The model will help VA improve both the employee and experience.

“There’s a richness, a comprehensiveness and value to being able to have an enterprise-wide system, where as much data as possible from as many different lines of business are consolidated into one central repository,” Albert said. “It allows you an opportunity to crosswalk trust, confidence, user experience… seeing what the comparative analysis is of those trust and satisfaction scores… from one area of your enterprise to other areas and be able to pinpoint gaps in service delivery… that your agency should focus on operationally.”

At GAO, the agency first looks to federal compliance, then to CX, to see how the two can coexist. Because GAO’s main customer is government – primarily supporting Congress in evidence-based policymaking – the agency is focusing its CX efforts on the domains of science and technology. GAO used this approach during the early stages of the COVID-19 pandemic to quickly publish vaccine readiness reports.

“[GAO focuses on] how do we cut down that cycle time, but also increase absorption, and that’s mostly the focus of our CX journey,” Taka Ariga, GAO’s chief data scientist and director of the Innovation Lab explained. “At the end of the day, what is sacrosanct for GAO is our objectivity, our nonpartisanship and our quality analysis. So CX needs to be in services to that ethos, not the other way around.”

Ariga encouraged agencies to “work backward,” focusing on the end product and user experience first, so that when agencies develop data science or technology capabilities, it’s not an engineer solution; it’s with CX front and center.

“How does one think about their experience? With the objectives in mind, and then engineering a solution to fit those purposes, not the other way around. That’s a newer mindset for GAO—it’s not to just jump into requirements gathering, it’s to really think about the persona—how do we serve them, and whether technology fits those purposes,” Ariga said.

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