Consumers Vote For Online Government
Federal Web sites now rank high in satisfaction, but they must continue to focus on constituents.
Posted Sep 23, 2005
  

The federal government is doing a better job of satisfying the needs of their online customers, according to ForeSee Results, an analytics firm that measures online customer satisfaction. According to the latest findings of its American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) report on the federal government's online performance, the e-government sector is gaining on several fronts, especially when compared to businesses. Scores are based on a 100-point scale and are calculated through a formula based on surveys of site users that measure the impact of increasing customer satisfaction on future consumer behavior, such as the likelihood to return to the Web site and recommend it to others.

"Thirteen of the 81 government Web sites we measured finished with a score of 80 or higher," says Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results. "That's very impressive. Those are scores that are up there with civilian businesses that are doing e-commerce and e-business." That number impresses more by the fact that those government agencies are accomplishing this level of satisfaction despite fewer resources and smaller budget than the private sector, according to Freed. Overall, the ACSI average satisfaction score increased 1.2 percent to 73.5, a 3.2 percent improvement from September 2004. While 13 Web sites achieved a score of 80 or higher, four sites were rated below 60; the remaining 64 fell someplace in between.

The Social Security Administration (SSA) broke into the ACSI's top 10 with the addition of three new sites. The sites--SSA's Help With Medicare Prescription Drug Costs, Internet Social Security Benefits Application, and Social Security Business Services Online--excelled at meeting specific needs, according to the report. "Government Web sites like the SSA are doing well because they have information that citizens want," Freed says.

Because government Web sites provide access to vast amounts of information, are focused on meeting specific mission requirements, and must organize this information to be accessible, providing the information customers are looking for and making Web sites easy to search and navigate are critical to successful customer feedback. "These Web sites are small windows into huge amounts of information," Freed says. "Customer satisfaction has a lot to do with what you expect, what you get, and how convenient it was to get it. Web sites have to provide the information their customers are looking for and fast."

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