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Modernizing the Constituent Experience: How State and Local Governments Can Hire for the Right CX Skills

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The constituent experience in 2022 looks markedly different than it did just a few years ago, as residents increasingly expect state and local agencies to provide self-service tools, digital and mobile interfaces, and a unified, seamless experience across all their government interactions.

The constituent experience in 2022 looks markedly different than it did just a few years ago, as residents increasingly expect state and local agencies to provide self-service tools, digital and mobile interfaces, and a unified, seamless experience across all their government interactions.

Achieving these goals will require not only technology transformation, but also workforce transformation. State and local governments will need to evolve into digitally enabled, customer-centric organizations, and that means upskilling their current workforce and hiring for the right customer experience (CX) skills.

Here’s a four-step plan for how they can accomplish this.


CX is a broad term that often gets confused with user experience design (UX) or interaction design (IX), said Christina Melton, director of experience design and transformation delivery at KPMG, a leading professional services firm that works with governments to improve their operations and drive digital transformation.

“Really, what everybody is mostly driving toward is human-centered design,” Melton said.

Effective human-centered design requires professionals who have expertise in designing experiences around people or with a specific end user (or groups of end users) in mind. Melton said the CX skills state and local governments need today encompass experience with user research and ethnographic research, the latter of which is a method where designers and researchers interact with potential end users in their real-life environment to improve how they design a specific product or experience. When looking for CX skills, it’s also important for current and future employees to have experience with user testing.

“Governments need someone who understands not only how to think about a solution but also how to ask people what they really need. To assess that, they should also be able to test and iterate the solution or experience before it goes out live,” Melton said.


When it comes to hiring for more technical roles, agencies often try to find a unicorn — the extremely rare individual who can do it all — because the organization may only have the budget to hire one person. For example, they may want someone who can do user experience and front-end coding and who has an IT background. However, these are all completely different skill sets.

Instead, agencies should focus on design and creative skills as they try to hire for CX roles. This may include someone with a background or degree in design, integrated media, data science, product strategy or product management. Once they hire someone with these skills, that person may be able to lead the charge in infusing design thinking, or a human-centered approach to innovation, throughout the organization.

“Looking at professionals in those creative fields is really going to give you a clue into what kinds of work they're probably focused on,” Melton said. “More often than not, they will come with a portfolio of work they've done.”


Hiring for the right CX skills will likely require agencies to look externally, but they can also upskill their current workforce and capitalize on existing skill sets within their own organization, said Alycia Socia, a senior experience strategist specialist for human-centered design at KPMG.

Socia said many agencies may already have employees with soft skills that transfer well to CX work.

“If you are able to be curious, ask the right questions, can sketch something out, share that with people and be open to getting responses, these are skills that can translate whether or not you’re a designer by trade,” she said.

Socia said training is also crucial. Agencies may have robust training programs that focus on an employee’s current role and responsibilities or specific organizational policies. However, they may be missing a prime upskilling opportunity by not revamping their training programs to focus on the modern skills public-sector employees need to deliver a better customer experience.

“There are ways to teach employees how to solve problems creatively or to take that traditional training content and twist and apply it in new ways,” Socia said.

For example, when training case managers or admins, it may be beneficial to incorporate a specific constituent problem in the training and ask employees how they would solve this challenge using different tools or by adapting the organization’s current business processes. This could help employees adopt a more human-centered way of thinking and a creative problem-solving approach.


To drive a better constituent experience, employees also need to be empowered with the right tools.

Governments are now laser-focused on digital transformation, and the favorable federal funding environment is helping them leapfrog ahead in their digital capabilities. They can seize this opportunity to implement cloud-based tools that automate processes and free up workers to participate in upskilling programs or strategic projects that allow them to think more creatively and proactively.

“Everybody’s doing so much, that they don’t have time to actually think — they’re reacting,” Melton said. “It would be better to think about a proactive model where an organization says, ‘This part of your day is spent on case work and this part of your day is spent on generating better ideas to improve our processes.”

Collaborative design interface tools like Figma and project management, development operations and IT service management solutions such as Microsoft Azure DevOps and Jira can also help agencies foster more enterprise collaboration and greater efficiency.

Delivering a better experience for government employees is also a critical part of delivering a better experience for constituents. Empowering employees with effective tools and platforms will support design-thinking initiatives that improve constituent service delivery.


State and local agencies now have an opportunity to transform themselves into truly customer-centric organizations.

But as agencies become more digitally enabled, they’ll also need to build the public-sector workforce of the future. Focusing on cultivating CX skills both internally and externally can drive cultural transformation within agencies that ushers in a human-centered approach to design and more customer-centric thinking.

“Many government employees have worked as public servants for a long time. They’ve experienced so much change and so many things have been thrown at them,” Socia said. “Governments need to throw a little bit of inspiration into figuring out, ‘How can we actually be a part of the change, and not just react to change that's happening to us?’”