WHY CONTRACTORS SHOULD BE CONSIDERED CUSTOMERS
Federal agencies everywhere are seeking to improve their customer experience (CX) performance. The Technology Modernization Fund recently allocated $100 million to several agencies to upgrade their technologies to better serve customers. While most actions in this area are targeted at improving the experience of taxpayers who interface with agencies, contractors, too, should consider themselves customers and encourage their federal counterparts to treat them as such. The classification of contractor-as-customer may best be understood at agencies like GSA that award contracts through which customers reach government agencies. Both GSA and their contractor partners want to provide good customer service and solutions to federal agencies. To do that, contractors need to have good access to GSA’s contract solutions. They are, literally, customers of GSA’s contract programs since they rely on them to do at least a portion of their government business. Put another way, if GSA was suddenly closed for contracting business, a lot of companies would be staring into a vacant virtual store window hoping to acquire something, just like a customer who arrives at a store after it closes. An argument can even be made that contractors are sometimes customers in other agencies. They rely on guidance and insight from customer agencies on how to allocate resources and best develop solutions. They are customers of agency knowledge that, in turn, allows them to serve that agency better. Contractors should start discussing the concept of their sometime customer status with GSA and other agencies now as investments are being made. Good contractors, for example, never hide behind email and voicemail and try to give good information to government contacts. Industry should expect no less from agencies. As the government seeks to improve their CX performance across the board contractors should ensure that they are not left out and are provided with the experience they need to better do their own jobs.