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Only 31 Percent of Americans Give Federal Agencies High Marks for Customer Service
The results of a new government study echo a White House order to streamline federal service delivery.
Posted Aug 30, 2011
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MeriTalk, the government IT network, today announced the results of the “Uncle Sam at Your Service: 2011 Federal Customer Experience Study,” which found that despite year-over-year improvement, just 31 percent of Americans are very satisfied with federal customer service.

Underwritten by RightNow, this new report comes out shortly after the White House released Executive Order 13571 in April calling for agencies to streamline federal service delivery and improve customer service. The second annual study reveals that 79 percent of Americans believe the federal government can improve customer service and that making it easier to determine where to go for an answer is the number one area federal agencies should focus on to improve.

According to the study, Americans believe federal agencies are making progress toward these goals. Thirty-one percent report they are very satisfied with federal service this year, up from 24 percent in 2010. Americans say they see the biggest improvements in agency responsiveness and consistency, two attributes they consider key to the customer service experience. Leading agencies, such as the Social Security Administration and Department of Education, set the bar with more than half of customers reporting exceptional service.

While federal agencies are moving in the right direction, Americans still indicate a significant gap between their current experiences and their customer service expectations. Four out of five Americans still believe the federal government can improve customer service (83 percent in 2010 and 79 percent in 2011).

Private-sector service also continues to outrank federal service. Forty-four percent of Americans are very satisfied with the service they receive from private companies, compared to the 31 percent who are very satisfied with agency service.

In his executive order, President Obama directs feds to "learn from what is working in the private sector and apply these best practices to deliver services better, faster, and at lower cost." To do so, the report suggests agencies must close the gap in the areas Americans value most: responsiveness, courtesy and professionalism, and issue resolution.

Above all, Americans want feds to make information more accessible and faster to find. Americans feel that federal agencies should focus on making it easier to determine where to find an answer (45 percent) and improve response times (42 percent). To meet federal customer expectations and realize the administration’s goals of improved service, the study recommends agencies:

  • Simplify federal data search;
  • Embrace a multi-hannel approach to meet customer communication preferences; and
  • Offer opt-in agency accounts to streamline service delivery.

The “Uncle Sam at Your Service: 2011 Federal Customer Experience Study” is based on a survey of 1,000 Americans in July. To download the full study, please visit www.meritalk.com/customerservice2011.

The voice of tomorrow’s government today, MeriTalk is an online community that combines professional networking and thought leadership to drive the government IT community dialogue. Developed as a partnership among the Federal Business Council, Federal Employee Defense Services, Federal Managers Association, GovLoop, National Treasury Employees Union, USO, and WTOP/WFED radio, MeriTalk is a community network.

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