Expanded customer satisfaction survey due in spring

An expanded version of the second annual governmentwide customer satisfaction survey will be released this spring, providing a broader look at how federal agencies are meeting customer expectations. The survey-a broader version of the 2000 customer satisfaction survey released last month-will include interviews with more than 90 customer groups, a major increase from earlier versions of the survey, which typically involved about 30 customer groups. Agencies determine which customers are interviewed for the survey. The survey ranks agencies on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) and is conducted by the University of Michigan Business School. "It was always our plan to broaden the survey to provide the best indication of customer satisfaction possible," said Rhudy Tennant, program manager at the National Partnership for Reinventing Government (NPR). "We started with 30 agencies and next spring we'll expand that baseline to close to 100." The survey will provide customer feedback to several first-time agency participants, including the U.S. Postal Service, the Small Business Administration and the Agriculture Department's Farm Service Agency. Several agencies have also decided to survey additional customer groups. For example, USDA's Food and Nutrition Service will survey recipients of its food stamp and school lunch programs, in addition to participants in the Women, Infants and Children program, who were surveyed in earlier surveys. "All in all, I think this is a big step forward from last year," said Bob Stone, a partner in Public Strategies Group Inc. and former director of NPR. "I think a lot of agencies have gotten away from the idea that there is one definition of customers." Stone and other experts have questioned earlier versions of the survey because agencies have pursued widely different strategies as they seek feedback on their activities. While the Veterans Benefits Administration has surveyed a random sample of veterans-considered primary customers of VA services-the Environmental Protection Agency has selected reference librarians who use the EPA Web site and respond to environmentally-related questions. EPA will still survey only reference librarians in the expanded survey due out this spring. "It would be controversial for EPA to talk to chemical companies or metal finishing companies as customers," said Stone, "and yet for EPA to be most effective, they really need to measure how they are dealing with those people." Stone mentioned the Education Department's Office of Student Financial Assistance and the Immigration and Naturalization Service as agencies that had made notable progress in surveying customers who are the primary users of their services. The Office of Student Financial Assistance contracted with CFI Group, a private consulting firm, to survey a sample of customers of all of its major programs, totaling 15 customer groups in all. The results of the CFI Group survey will be included in this spring's expanded governmentwide survey. The INS will survey travelers who pass agency checkpoints at U.S. borders with Mexico and with Canada. Stone was also pleased to see that the Army, Navy and Air Force will survey personnel who are using military equipment. "I think it's wonderful that the services are surveying warfighters," he said. Because the spring survey will include the views of so many new customer groups, it will not be strictly comparable to the 1999 and preliminary-2000 versions of the survey. The ASCI index provides each agency with a numerical score from 0 to 100 based on customer expectations, perceived quality and perceived value. Since 1994, the ACSI index has become a gauge of customer satisfaction for more than 200 private companies in 34 industries, ranging from the Adolph Coors Co. to J.C. Penney to Zenith Electronics Corp. The following table contains a preliminary list of all customer groups to be interviewed in the spring version of the governmentwide survey. New participants for the expanded survey are in italics.
Agency Customer
Department of Agriculture
Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service International travelers having plant/animal inspections
Forest Service Visitors to National Parks
Food and Nutrition Service WIC program recipients
Food Safety and Inspection Service Principal grocery shoppers and food preparers
Farm Service Agency Farmers receiving loans
Recipients of federal crop insurance
Food and Nutrition Service Food stamp recipients
School lunch recipients
National Agriculture Resource Service Data users of Agricultural statistics
Natural Resources Conservation Service Recipients of technical assistance
Department of Commerce
Census Bureau Data users in libraries, states, local agencies
Patent and Trademark Office Recent individual patent and trademark applicants
Department of Defense
Defense Acquisition Suppliers to the Defense Department
Army Warfighters receiving new equipment
Navy Warfighters receiving new equipment
Air Force Warfighters receiving new equipment
Corps of Engineers Users of recreation water facilities
Army & Air Force Exchange Service Exchange shoppers
Department of Education
Education Primary users of educational publications
Users of Education-Information website
Grant Administration payments
Student Financial Assistance, Education Dept. Electronic applicants for Title IV aid
All other customer groups
Department of Energy
Energy Information Administration Information Users
Environmental Protection Agency
EPA Reference Librarians accessing EPA Web site
Federal Emergency Management Agency
Disaster assistance recipients
General Services Administration
Consumer Information Center Users of Consumer Information Center Publications
Health and Human Services
Administration for Children and Families Parents of Head Start students
Food and Drug Administration Principal grocery shoppers and food preparers
Health Care Financing Administration Recent Medicare beneficiaries
Health Care Financing Administration (4 segments) Participants in state Medicaid/SCHIP programs
Center for Disease Control Users of website
Health Resources and Services Administration Data recipients
Data recipients
Housing and Urban Development
Community Development Community Block Grants
Federal Housing Administration Applicants for FHA mortgages
Housing assistance recipients
Department of the Interior
Bureau of Land Management Recreational visitors
National Park Service Recreational visitors to parks
Fish and Wildlife Service Visitors to conservation refuges
Department of Justice
Immigration and Naturalization Service International air travelors
International travelers -- Northern U.S. border
International travelers -- Southern U.S. border
Office of Justice Programs Data recipients of criminal justice information
Department of Labor
OSHA Health and safety professionals
Employees who experience walk throughs
Employment and Training Administration Users of One Stop centers
Employment Standards Administration Black lung part b beneficiaries
Pension & Welfare Benefits Benefit plan participants
Bureau of Labor Statistics Users of labor statistics
Educators involved in NASA center programs
Media Contacts
National Science Foundation
Recent grant applicants
Recent grant awardees
Office of Personnel Management
Federal retirees and annuitants
Small Business Administration
Recipients of small business financing
Recipients of business development assistance
Users of small business development centers
Social Security Administration Recent retirement benefits recipients
Survivor annuitants
Disability beneficiaries
Department of State
Users of information/website
Bureau of Counsular Affairs Recent passport applicants
Department of Transportation
Federal Aviation Administration Commercial pilots
Department of Treasury
Customs Service International air travelors
Internal Revenue Service Electronic tax filers
Paper tax filers
Tax exempt tax filers
Employee plans
Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, and Firearms Brewers, winery, and importers
Veterans Administration
Veteran compensation/benefit claimants
Veterans Health Adminstration Outpatients at VHA clinics
Patients at VHA hospitals
Recipients of pharmacy services
Veterans Benefits Administration Participants in insurance programs
Board of Veterans Appeals Veterans or beneficiaries making appeals
National Cemetary Administration Cemetary programs and services
Pension Benefit Corporation
Pension beneficiaries
Export-Import Bank
U.S. Mint
U.S. Postal Service Recipients of regular mail
Recipients of express mail

Source: National Partnership for Reinventing Government

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