How e-Listening Can Improve Federal Agencies


Perception matters. Even for the U.S. government and its 445 federal agencies. When you peel back the perception of government organizations as being large, unresponsive, and disconnected there are real teams of people who endeavor to fulfill their mission and serve the American people.

The disconnect between agencies and the citizens they serve has a lot to do with how agencies listen. If agencies rely only on individuals or organizations who actively provide feedback, they are missing the voice of many who appear to stay silent. If agencies look only to aggregated transactional data, they are missing the information around what led to that action or what followed.

Listening is most effective when done in surround sound. Much in the same way that we want to hear and experience a movie. No one wants to hear only the dialogue from the left speaker. The idea of “surround sound” e-listening is something the private sector has deployed effectively for customer acquisition and retention across industries for years. Leveraging Voice of the Consumer (VOC) data enables an organization to “hear” their target audiences or constituencies in a whole new way.

Measuring and monitoring VOC feedback is the key to building customer retention and satisfaction and developing durable marketplace presence. This is relevant for federal agencies whether you’re HUD or HHS to USPS or the US Mint.

Federal agencies recognize that customer feedback is valuable far beyond the private sector.

As Gartner Research reports, to improve audience experience, you need to gather the three types of VOC feedback: direct, indirect and inferred.

  • Direct feedback: Feedback is given directly to the organization when the customer knows the organization is listening and may expect a response. This is typically through surveys, complaints, market research or panels.
  • Indirect feedback: The customer is speaking about the organization but not necessarily to the organization. Communications directly to the company may qualify if the VOC-related content is not related to the reason for the initial interaction. Indirect feedback includes social listening, review sites and text analytics applied to customer care interactions
  • Inferred feedback: Operational, behavioral and transactional data is associated with customer experience, such as website clickstream data, purchase history or contact center data

Narrowing the gap between services offered and what customers need has always been a challenge for businesses. The same contest exists with government organizations seeking to improve the access to information at the very moment that target audiences need it. Voice of the consumer (VOC) feedback can be used by government organizations to uncover outdated processes that are contributing to inefficiencies.

For government agencies that lack direct or inferred feedback systems, establishing an operation that can monitor indirect feedback from audiences (also referred to as “citizens”) is vital to recognize competition and responsibility across any marketplace.

For example, the issue of income disparities has been a tipping point for discontentment across citizens who believe that excessive corporate consumption is the root cause. Public sector agencies can monitor the VOC feedback across citizens to comprehend sentiment and perception – as well as regional common complaints – on interrelated issues. This would prepare the agency to properly respond with content communications and programs that would have a higher likelihood for public approval.

Consider measuring customer understanding or stress points around programs like SNAP benefits or Medicare. What are citizens asking and discussing on forums where the agencies that administer programs or support public education campaigns aren’t readily present? This can be captured through indirect e-listening, VOC feedback.

VOC feedback will help any organization to stand out from the competition and create long-lasting social value with target audiences. As federal agencies continue to use VOC feedback to improve, citizens will feel increasingly valued, and agencies will be better equipped to achieve their mission.

Do you work closely with federal agencies? How can VOC data transform the relationship between citizens and the agencies you serve?

George Assimakopoulos is the Founder and Principal Manager of Metric Centric, an advisory practice that helps businesses and organizations to better understand the marketplace through the analysis of key market intelligence. He is a successful serial entrepreneur who is passionate about content marketing, lead generation, and leveraging data for business growth.