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CX Terms and Definitions

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Supplementary material for OMB Circular A-11, Section 280

Last updated: August 2023

The following terms are frequently used and referenced in Federal customer experience and service delivery guidance and materials. If you have feedback or thoughts on additional terms that should be included for consistent use, please let us know here.

Term Definition Additional References
Business Process Modeling The activities conducted to better understand and document the ways in which an organization/program provides a service. This can include understanding the steps, people, channels, decisions, and technologies – and the relationships between those parts – that go into providing a service. Outputs of business process modeling can include customer journey maps, service blueprints, business process models, and other deliverables.
Channel The mechanisms (“the places”) by which the public accesses public services (e.g., in-person at a service center (a USDA county office), in-person at another point of service (buying stamps at a pharmacy), digital (checking a loan balance on a smart phone or web page), or over the phone (calling a call center to complete an application over the phone). Federal Service Worksheet
Customer Any individual, business, or organization (such as a grantee or State, local, or Tribal entity) that interacts with an agency or program, either directly or through a federally-funded program administered by a contractor, nonprofit, or other Federal entity.

In some cases, Federal government customers could also include public servants and employees themselves in their interactions with Federal processes.

EO 14058
Customer Experience The public's perceptions of and overall satisfaction with interactions with an agency, product, or service. EO 14058
Customer Research Gathering information about customers and customer segments, such as through conducting qualitative interviews with a representative group of customers who have attempted to meet their need by using the service or who may use that service in the future. Human Centered Design for CX
Digital Analytics The process, systems, and/or skillset required to analyze data related to digital services such as websites, mobile apps, systems, etc., to understand the performance of online content, tools, resources, products, and services. Digital Analytics Program
Digital Form A web application that has the capability to capture, validate, submit, and process structured information digitally and in an automated manner. 21st Century IDEAct
Digital Service A transactional service (e.g., online form, account management tool, etc.) or an informational service that is delivered over the internet across a variety of platforms, devices, and delivery mechanisms (e.g., websites, mobile applications, text/SMS, etc.). 21st Century IDEAct
Digital Signature An asymmetric key operation where the private key is used to digitally sign data and the public key is used to verify the signature. Digital signatures provide authenticity protection, integrity protection, and non-repudiation, but not confidentiality protection. 21st Century IDEAct
Electronic Signature / E-Signature An electronic sound, symbol, or process, attached to or logically associated with a contract or other record and executed or adopted by a person with the intent to sign the record. 21st Century IDEAct
Human-Centered Design An interdisciplinary methodology of putting people, including those who will use or be impacted by what one creates, at the center of any process to solve challenging problems. EO 14058, Human Centered Design for CX
Journey Map A visual representation of the steps the customer takes to reach their goals and the emotions they feel at each step of the process. Human Centered Design for CX
Mobile Application / Native Mobile Application A software application designed and developed to be used on a mobile device (such as a smart phone or tablet) that uses the mobile device’s operating system (e.g., Apple iOS or Google Android). This does not include websites and web applications that are optimized for mobile devices yet are only accessed using a web browser on a mobile device. 21st Century IDEAct
Mobile-Friendly The alignment with and implementation of the Eight Principles of Mobile-Friendliness, as outlined on digital.gov, that help agencies to comply with the Connected Government Act and ensure federal websites and services accessed on mobile devices are usable. Mobile Principles
Performance Measurement The ongoing monitoring and reporting of program accomplishments, particularly progress toward preestablished goals. Performance measures may address the type or level of program activities conducted (process), the direct products and services delivered by a program (outputs), or the results of those products and services (outcomes). Federal Performance Framework
Product Management / Product Manager The activities necessary to deliver and ensure the ongoing success of products or services that meets a customer (or end user) needs. A product manager leads a cross-functional team of developers and designers to deliver a product or service that is centered on customer (user) insights. They are responsible for the end-to-end of delivery (the whole product lifecycle – from idea, planning, development (feature prioritization), launch, and iterative improvements), as well as analyzing performance metrics to determine success or opportunities for improvements.
Section 508 Standards Section 508 of the Rehabilitation Act of 1973 requires that agencies must provide people with disabilities access to information comparable to the access available to others, unless an undue burden would be imposed on the agency. The Revised Section 508 Standards contain scoping and technical requirements for information and communications technologies (ICT) to ensure accessibility and usability by individuals with disabilities. Compliance with these standards is mandatory for federal agencies. Section 508 Standards
Service The sum of the help provided–by an agency and its partners–throughout the process a customer goes through to obtain, receive, or make use of a public offering (or comply with a policy). This definition is inspired by customer perception; customers perceive the series of interactions as a whole when they combine to solve a need or provide assistance during a life event. The degree to which those interactions are effectively coordinated, easy to navigate, and mitigate uncertainty, largely determines the customer’s satisfaction and trust. Services, as experienced by the customer, cut across organizational functions. They need not align exactly to formal Federal budgets, programs, or organizational charts, or even to an individual agency. They do however require management and collaboration to be delivered effectively.

Most Federal government services can be categorized as one of several service types: Administrative, Benefits, Compliance, Recreation, Informational, Data and Research, and Regulatory.

Federal Service Worksheet
Service Blueprint A visual representation of the steps the employees or the agency takes to complete a service process.
Service Delivery Actions taken by an organization, like the Federal government, related to providing a benefit or service to a customer of a Federal government entity; this refers to the multitude of diverse interactions between a customer and Federal agency. Federal Service Worksheet
Service Design The human-centered design approach by which organizations optimize service delivery by designing for the end-to-end journey of the service. When practicing service design, organizations holistically review not only the customer's experience, but also the systems and processes that contribute to the experiences of both employees and customers.
Total Holistic Burden The total time, effort, or financial resources required to generate, maintain, or provide information for a collection, service, or activity. PRA Overview, OIRA Burden Memo
User Any individual that uses a website, web application, mobile application, or digital service to complete a task 21st Century IDEAct
U.S. Web Design System (USWDS) USWDS is a design system for the federal government that is designed to provide guidance and tools to make it easier to build accessible, mobile-friendly government websites. USWDS was created by the 21st Century IDEAct. U.S. Web Design System
Voice of the Customer (VOC) A VOC program is a systematic approach for collecting, analyzing, and taking actions based on the customer feedback data that an organization collects. Data types may include structured sources (e.g., end of interaction and end of journey feedback surveys), and unstructured sources (e.g., emails, online reviews, social media messaging, chats, and call center notes).
Web-Based Application / Web Application A software program that is accessible using a web browser. 21st Century IDEAct
Website A group of globally accessible interlinked web pages under a unique host name. Websites generally feature a collection of web pages, web applications, and digital services that form an integrated digital experience. 21st Century IDEAct