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New York Appoints First Chief Customer Experience Officer

Former Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts SVP Tonya Webster takes up the post focused on incorporating user experience principles, creating a statewide customer experience strategy and building up a human-centered design team.

New York Gov. Kathy Hochul
The state of New York has a new C-suite position: chief customer experience officer.

Tonya Webster will be the first person to hold the title and will focus on improving residents’ experience accessing state government services and benefits, the state announced in a press release.

Webster comes with more than 20 years of private-sector experience leading customer experience transformations, per the release. She previously worked at Blue Cross Blue Shield of Massachusetts as senior vice president of service and customer experience officer for the health plan. Prior to that she was Comcast NBC/Universal’s vice president of customer experience.

Now in public office, Webster will tackle several core goals, including collaborating with state agencies to identify ways to improve their processes. She’ll also be in charge of developing a statewide customer experience strategy and taking lead on implementing it as well as with seeing customer experience principles incorporated into the state’s technology road map. Finally, she’ll help grow the state’s stable of user researchers, designers and digital professionals so New York has the talent needed to advance its human-centered design goals.

Webster will report to Kathryn Garcia, the director of state operations and infrastructure.

New York first announced plans to create the chief customer experience officer (CXO) role in January. Then-CIO Tony Riddick told GovTech the CXO would help make government websites easier to understand and navigate, as well as streamline and digitize how residents access benefits and services. The CXO would also work to uncover the root causes of customer pain points, whether that was an issue related to technology, agency practices or users’ misunderstandings of what they could expect, he said.

Gov. Kathy Hochul said Webster will now help the state center focus on residents’ experience, improve efficiency and reduce pain points.

“Obtaining a service or benefit from a government agency does not have to be challenging, painful or frustrating,” Hochul said in a statement.