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Feds Think They’re Solid on Customer Service. The Public Isn’t So Sure.

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In a discussion on Internet policy at DC’s State of the Net conference this past January, White House Chief Technology Officer Megan Smith remarked, “We're the country that created Facebook and Twitter and created the Internet. Why shouldn't the websites and the mobile services and the way that we do customer service with the American people from the government – why shouldn't it be that good?” It’s a fair question, and one that’s gained immense traction over the past year: Obama spent much of his last appearance on The Daily Show discussing the nexus of federal innovation, technology, and public services, and if the turnout at last week’s GovExec-Nextgov Customer Experience Summit serves as any indication, agencies are just as concerned about what they can do to improve customer service.

Delving deeper into the issue, GBC surveyed 410 federal employees on their perspectives and found that the majority share a relatively optimistic outlook on federal customer experience – 65% of respondents agree or strongly agree that their organization tailors its customer service according to customers’ specific needs, while two-thirds agree or strongly agree that their organization’s customer experience is at least on par with that of the private sector:

However, these results differ substantially from what citizen surveys report. According to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI), public satisfaction with federal customer service is at an eight-year low, with the private sector unequivocally outperforming the government in terms of quality. There is, in short, a significant disconnect between federal agencies and the citizens they seek to serve – one that must be bridged if government is to be, as Smith put it, “that good.” Stay tuned for GBC’s next installment on the drivers and challenges of customer-centric service.

Methodology: GBC deployed a survey to a sample of Government Executive, Nextgov, Defense One, and Route Fifty print and online subscribers on May 12, 2015. The pool of 410 respondents included employees at the GS/GM 11-15 grade levels and members of the Senior Executive Service. Respondents included representatives from at least 31 federal and defense agencies. Click here to see the full report.

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