CX as Your Sacred Duty

John talks about improving trust ratings, journey mapping, and reaching underserved communities.
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John is a native Texan who served honorably in the U.S. Marine Corps from 1999-2007 as a non-commissioned officer and infantry unit leader, including one combat tour in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom from 2004-2005 and Operation Natural Fire in the Republic of Kenya in 2006. John has also served as the CEO of Combined Arms, Executive Director of NextOp, a program manager with Wounded Warrior Project, the Mayor of Houston’s Office of Veterans Affairs, and as a policy and district staffer for a U.S. Representative.

This episode features an interview with John Boerstler, Chief Experience Officer at the U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs.  In this episode, John talks about improving trust ratings, journey mapping, and reaching underserved communities.


“If we’re going to create this world-class customer experience for our veterans and their families, caregivers, and survivors, then we also have to make sure that we provide a world-class employee experience for 400,000 men and women that serve here in the VA everyday.”

“If we think just not only along the lines of age, race and ethnicity, sexual orientation, gender identity, and gender in general, we have to design for all of these different customer types to ensure that some of the most underserved veterans and their families are out or are engaged and retained as customers and that they choose VA for their care and benefits so that we can fulfill our sacred oath and our commitment to them.”

“The United States military creates the largest number of displaced workers every year. 250,000 young men and women leave active service. And they move from Virginia to Texas or California to Missouri or Missouri to Florida and the professional and personal networks that they have at their duty station that do not translate to the communities that they return to. And so they have a difficult time finding work and finding a new social or that unit mentality, that social net social network, so to speak that we have in the military, that comradery that we so miss. And that can lead to negative health and economic outcomes. So how can we be on the front end of that transition, improve it, negative health and economic outcomes by wrapping our arms around these individuals and their families at that point of transition and then at the same time deliver a delightful customer experience?”

Time Stamps

*[4:09] Shifting to human-centered design

*[6:05] The sacred duty to serve Veterans

*[7:15] How the VA has improved trust ratings by 23%

*[10:26] Leveraging tech to give more Veterans access to services

*[12:50] The birth of the Veterans Experience Officer and the first journey map

*[16:54] The core values of the VA in CX

*[18:46] Using data to increase access and improve outcomes for Veterans

*[20:47] Meeting the unique challenges of Veterans after active service

*[24:14] Learning to meet the needs of LGBTQ and BIPOC Veterans

*[27:31] Measuring the effectiveness of CX initiatives

*[31:58] Meeting Veterans at their point of transition to civilian life

*[32:33] Addressing mental health needs among Veterans

*[39:00] Owning the moment


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This episode is brought to you by IBM. If you are responsible for Customer Experience, they’ve created a White Paper just for you. In the CX North Star Report, you can learn more about how to activate your CX vision. Download it here.