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New York to Hire Customer Experience Chief, Launch Single ID

The chief customer experience officer would work to uncover causes of pain points and help make government services more accessible. The consolidated ID effort, meanwhile, will be aimed at stopping account fraud.

New York CIO Angelo Riddick
New York CIO Angelo “Tony” Riddick
Government Technology/David Kidd
New York is looking to revamp how residents experience its services. In a recent press release, Gov. Kathy Hochul announced plans to sign the state’s first executive order on customer experience as well as hire a chief customer experience officer.

The new position will help guide efforts to streamline and digitize how residents access benefits and services, make government websites easier to understand and navigate, and consolidate residents’ duplicate government accounts.

Once installed, the chief customer experience officer will work with all agencies to gather feedback and data to understand what customers need, where users are hitting frictions, and why, CIO Tony Riddick told GovTech.

The officer would work to uncover when the root cause of an issue may stem from technology, agency practices or mismatches between user expectations and the realities of what can be delivered, Riddick explained.

For example, a resident might report frustration with an online application if they don’t get a response back in a timely manner. It might be agency processes — not faulty tech — that leads to the slow response time, however. In that case, the customer experience officer would work with the agency to identify speed bumps.

“There’s so many variables that lend [themselves] to the frustration of a customer,” Riddick explained. “The analysis is really going to be key. They just can’t come in and say that latency is a result of X — [for example,] that we have a slow server. Latency can be the result of an individual trying to access a website in the bottom of a brownstone, with 2G connectivity. We have to figure that out with the data that we collect.”

This could lead to more communication with users about their expectations.

“Something that isn’t documented right now is the realism of the customer’s concern: if they expect to be able to access a resource in, say, 30 milliseconds, because they have 5G connectivity, and they don’t have connectivity at the time, we have to identify that,” Riddick said. “So [we need to be] managing expectations, and then having a public campaign with public affairs officers, communications officers, to put out information that we’ve identified that could be frustrating to the customer.”

Details of the chief customer experience officer role are still being hammered out, including the exact job description and the resources and staffing needed, Riddick said.

The state is already eyeing several user experience hurdles — including state websites that confuse visitors with bureaucratic language and acronyms, per the press release.

Additionally, while more than half of site visitors use mobile, the websites have not been optimized for this channel. Gov. Hochul announced plans to add more user researchers, designers and digital professionals to the state’s web design team, where they’ll be charged with making agency sites, applications and online experiences more understandable, accessible and user-friendly.


New York is working to launch ID+, a service that “captures all of the information that we get from our customers into one identification,” Riddick said.

At present, residents often must create new logins for different government websites and applications, per the release. This can lead to forgotten passwords and forces users to resubmit their information for each new account.

One result is that the same individual may be registered with the state under several different versions of their name, with one account using a nickname and another using a full name, for example, Riddick said.

The ID+ initiative, however, would link together accounts belonging to the same person, giving the state a clearer view of its users. Knowing which activities are being conducted by the same person helps the state better detect, and pinpoint the source of, unusual activity.

The new approach could also help prevent situations in which fraudsters create an account under another individual’s name to masquerade as that person and steal resources intended for them. The state can more readily detect a new, false account trying to pose as a person if the individual only has one account, not many.

“If we have ‘Frederick Smith’ … a fraudster can come in as ‘Fred Smith,’ if they have the information, and then extract from that person’s account,” Riddick said. “… If we rationalized those IDs and boil them down to one individual, we can reduce fraud and provide faster services to our customers.”

The state is using an “automated module” to help identify accounts that may belong to the same person, Riddick said.

Several agencies are testing the single ID solution now, with the state prioritizing piloting with agencies whose websites receive heavy traffic, such as the departments of Labor, Motor Vehicles and Health, Riddick said.


Other initiatives aim to help residents take advantage of benefits available to them and discover why participation in certain services remains low, per the press release.

Demand — and federal funding for — affordable child care has risen over the past decade, yet participation in the state’s child-care assistance program has declined, the release notes. Fewer than 10 percent of children in families that are income-eligible for the program enroll in it.

Confusion over eligibility requirements — which vary by local social services district — might be one culprit. Gov. Hochul announced plans to standardize eligibility requirements as well as debut an online tool where families can pre-screen their eligibility and apply.

Child-care assistance isn’t the only underused benefit. WIC — the Special Supplemental Nutrition Program for Women, Infants and Children — sees only about half of eligible families enroll, and even those who do enroll don’t consistently use the benefits, as noted in the release. The state aims to contact participants to learn about obstacles preventing residents from making greater use of the benefits and discover ways the state can improve how it delivers WIC. That outreach will be conducted via surveys, text, email and live chat.
Jule Pattison-Gordon is a senior staff writer for Government Technology. She previously wrote for PYMNTS and The Bay State Banner, and holds a B.A. in creative writing from Carnegie Mellon. She’s based outside Boston.