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How to build a government CX practice

Oct 18, 2023

Improving customer experience (CX) continues to be a top government priority, but how do you do it effectively? Learn about the layers and components that comprise a mature CX practice—so you can evaluate what you have and understand what you need to delight your customers at every touchpoint.

An excellent customer experience is built one interaction at a time—and requires an intimate understanding of what people want and need at every step along the way. Done well, CX may look easy, elegant, and almost effortless.

But in practice, building a mature CX function requires a mix of components and activities that range from funding and leadership to journey mapping and customer analytics tools.

Good CX increases trust among customers, which is foundational to good service delivery and effective mission fulfillment. That’s why government agencies have been mandated to focus on improving their CX—but they haven’t been given the tools to do so.

The lack of guidance for CX leaders has resulted in individually-led research, supported by the experience and knowledge of colleagues, and cobbled together with advice from the CX leads in other agencies who are a step ahead but similarly lack a view to what’s next.

As you seek to build up the CX capabilities in your agency, this comprehensive framework can help you evaluate your CX maturity and determine where to focus your efforts to level up and sustain a successful CX organization in the government.

This framework will help you understand what you need to establish, grow, expand, and/or sustain your CX presence. And while each of the elements has specific value and purpose, agencies with limited CX capabilities can get started with just one or two of these. From behind-the-scenes foundational elements to customer-facing interaction elements where research drives operational and service improvement, this CX framework will help steer your journey toward a well-rounded organization.

Foundation: Create a stable CX platform

First things first. Before you can stand up and scale CX tools, practices, and touchpoints, you need to create a stable platform. If you don’t have at least some of these elements in place, it will be a challenge to develop mature capabilities.

Here we present a mix of incentives and funding streams that can help you build a case for your CX investments, along with governance and leadership considerations.

Do you have an executive sponsor who can help drive the work? Have you developed a CX vision and purpose, along with objectives and goals, to serve as your north star? With these foundational elements in place, you’ll be in a strong position to build a fully functional CX practice.


CX Motivators

  • Individual and program performance incentives
  • CX priorities in agency strategic plan

Government Mandates

CX Value

  • Cost savings
  • Better outcomes
  • Increased trust



  • New appropriations


  • Existing appropriations
  • Re-purposed appropriations
  • Program savings
  • Fee-for-service


CX Advisory Council

  • Intra-agency collaboration
  • CX advisory council charter
  • Greenlight CX initiatives
  • Prioritize CX initiatives

CX Policy

  • Customer bill of rights
  • Employee bill of rights
  • CX guidelines for employees


CX Strategy

  • CX vision and purpose
  • CX objectives and goals

CX Executive Sponsor

  • Inter-agency collaboration
  • Awareness, advocacy, and executive support
  • CX maturity assessment
  • CX roadmap
  • CX org design

Enablement: Optimize and scale your CX work

The meat of your CX practice, the enablement layer encompasses the activities that help you optimize and scale the work you’re doing—with the goal of spreading a culture of CX across the agency.

Building from your foundation, enablement brings your CX practice to life by focusing on the people, practices, structure, tools, and communications you will need to succeed. Whether it’s training CX coaches or doing a deep dive into journey mapping and service blueprints, enablement activities are designed to bring rigor and alignment to your efforts.


CX Communications

  • External communications
  • Internal communications
  • Events and roadshows

Human Resources

  • Performance incentives
  • Awards recognition

Capacity Building

  • CX/HCD training
  • CX champions/coaches
  • Detailees


CX Center of Excellence

  • CX standards
  • CX best practices
  • Methodologies
  • Tools and templates
  • CX knowledge base

CX Insights

  • CX dashboard


CX Community of Practice

  • CX CoP charter
  • CX CoP ways of working

CX Research and Analysis

  • Ecosystem mapping
  • Experience mapping
  • Customer intimacy
  • Journey mapping
  • Service blueprint
  • CX insights and recommendations

CX Scoping

  • CX service catalog
  • Opportunity assessment
  • CX efforts inventory

Interaction: Deliver excellent CX experiences

And at the top sits the interaction layer. This is where the work happens.

You’ve done the research and figured out what the customer journeys look like—and now you’ve designed changes that improve the way customers experience your services. But you’re also measuring your solutions along the way to understand what’s making a difference and where you need to adjust.

And finally, touchpoints such as chatbots, websites, and contact centers are where the rubber meets the road. Are you actually meeting people where they are and delivering the experiences they want and need?


Service Transformation

  • Service design/evolution
  • Policy updates
  • Technology modernization
  • Reskilling
  • Change management

Service Delivery

  • Scaling CX solutions
  • Services


Voice of the Customer

  • Digital listening posts
  • Customer surveys
  • Customer analytics tools/software

CX Success Metrics

  • Customer outcomes
  • Customer satisfaction score
  • ACSI index
  • Contact center metrics
  • Employee retention

CX Reporting

  • OMB A-11 (Section 280) reporting
  • Public CX reporting



  • Public site/app
  • Internal site/app
  • Chatbot



  • Outbound
  • Inbound

Standing up a government CX practice can feel overwhelming at first. You may have some of these components in place, or may be starting from scratch.

We developed this framework to provide a full-picture view of the CX building blocks to help you identify areas of opportunity for your agency to develop an effective approach to CX.

ICF partners with federal CX leaders to transform customer experience—contact us to start a conversation.

Meet the author
  1. Neil Desai, Partner, Digital Transformation

    Neil has over 30 years of experience driving change, both large- and small-scale, in government and commercial organizations. He has positioned agencies for the widespread adoption of CX practices and culture through a combination of strategic, tactical, and change management efforts. Neil authored the GSA Customer Experience Playbook and has published several articles on organizational transformation.

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