Monday, February 14, 2011
If you ran a business and only 65 percent of your customers were satisfied, do you think you’d stay in business very long? That’s what a recent survey found from customers of many federal agencies, and their customers aren’t happy! In response, Cong. Henr

The annual federal customer satisfaction survey covering more than 100 agencies recently reported that 2010 data show the largest one-year drop in satisfaction since the survey began in 1999. Conducted by the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), the federal government is now the lowest ranking of all economic sectors covered by the survey.  The sectors with the highest rankings are durable and non-durable goods companies (think cars, washing machines, and paper goods) at 77 percent.

Highlights of Survey.  The federal government peaked at 72 percent in 2006, but it has dropped rapidly in recent years.  According to Dr. Forrest Morgeson, a research scientist at ACSI, the rating is based on several factors, such as information delivery, process efficiency, website usability, and customer service.  Interestingly, the federal government ranks high on the “customer service” factor.  The declines have been in the information delivery and process efficiency areas.  The lesson:  great customer service by itself won’t achieve high customer satisfaction!

Ratings ranged widely for different federal agencies, with most clustering in the 67-69 percent range.  Defense rated highest, with 83 percent satisfaction.  The lowest – even lower than the IRS – were programs at the Department of Education, at 50 percent satisfaction.

The survey didn’t only look at problems.  It also highlighted successes. At a forum on Tuesday, three agencies were recognized for being the best at customer satisfaction:  The VA’s National Cemetery Administration was rated number one in the government with a 94 percent satisfaction rating (higher than Mercedes Benz!).  Also recognized were the Office of Personnel Management for its web-based customer services, and HHS’s Health Resources and Services Administration for program-based customer satisfaction.

New Legislation Proposed.  Meanwhile, Cong. Henry Cuellar (D-TX) introduced new legislation last week, H.R. 538, to require customer service standards across the government.  His new legislation is similar to a bill he introduced in the last Congress that passed the House but died in the Senate.  It incorporates insights from a GAO report on improving customer service released last year.


Graphic credit:  VentureBeat