Whether seeking information, applying for benefits, making payments or navigating agency websites, citizens say interacting with the federal government has become increasingly difficult.
Improving “customer experience” is a priority of the Obama administration. But the latest American Customer Satisfaction Index scores show citizens have become increasingly disillusioned with the federal services they receive. ACSI reports the decline in satisfaction scores over the last two years coincides with cutbacks in agency budgets and staffs, which have made it difficult to provide quality service. The average government score was 64.4 (on a scale of 0 to 100), lower than every industry studied, except Internet service providers, whose average score was 63. The national ASCI score, including both the public and private sectors, was 75.6.
The Citizen Experience
Satisfaction is down in most facets of government interactions, including the process for getting benefits and services, the clarity and accessibility of information, and staff courteousness and professionlism, which has declined the most. ACSI notes customer service is often the first casualty of spending cuts, especially if the service is labor-intensive.
Bringing Up the Rear
Federal agencies continue to lag behind the private sector in customer satisfaction. Among specific industries, only Internet service providers scored lower—at 63.
Overall satisfaction with federal services has dropped nearly 6 percent since 2012, despite focused attention from the White House to spur improvements across government.
How Agencies Stack Up
No federal department scores above the national ACSI score of 75.6. The Defense Department leads in citizen satisfaction while the Treasury Department ranks the lowest, which is attributed to the tax-collecting mission of the Internal Revenue Service. Scores at the Health and Human Services Department dropped from 69 in 2012 to 62 in 2014.
Despite government’s overall showing in the ACSI report, some agencies rate high in customer satisfaction. Retirees doing business with the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation give the agency a 90, which is higher than the leading private sector company—Amazon—at 88.