Federal Customer Service
Customer service is a vital part of any public or private business or service, and it’s especially so for the American government, whose purpose is to protect and serve the public. After years of declining ratings of the Federal government’s customer service, for the second year in a row Federal agencies scores have improved according to Forrester’s annual U.S. Federal Customer Experience Index. The Biden-Harris administration is promoting measures to continue this upward trend. Between an executive order, new directives, and acts, the federal government aims to enhance customer experience.
Improving Customer Service
On December 13th, President Biden signed an executive order Transforming Federal Customer Experience and Service Delivery to Rebuild Trust in Government. This order includes 36 customer experience improvement commitments across 17 federal agencies. These goals work to streamline customer service among federal agencies in different ways, including:
- Retiree benefits
- Tax filing and management
- Air travel streamlining
- Student Loan Management
- Natural disaster relief
- Veterans benefits
- Small business support
- Health care access
- Poverty relief
With these goals, the government hopes to alleviate customers with better programs and benefits. Forrester’s Index also found that nine government agencies performed higher than their industry average. Some of these include the National Park Service, Bureau of Consular Affairs, Medicare, Medicaid, and U.S. Postal Service. The five lowest scoring agencies were USAJOBS.gov, the IRS, HealthCare.gov, the Education Department, and the Small Business Administration. With this knowledge, directives should focus on empowering and improving the agencies that satisfied customers the least.
The report also found pronounced satisfaction differences between demographics as well. While men (64.4) and women (61.1) were not as severe, the differences between members born before 1945 (71.8) and after 1997 (56.7) or white (64) and non-white, such as Pacific Islanders (47.9), were more drastic. With the new executive order, the federal government aims to create more equitable and usable services to improve customer experience in order to better serve the entirety of the American public. In times of disaster and peace, the American people need to be at the center of everything the government does. And with the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, the U.S. government must work harder to rebuild communities, protect rights, and provide competent solutions for all customers.
Customer Experience Goals under PMA
In November 2021, the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) with the President’s Management Council (PMC) released the Biden-Harris administration’s Management Agenda Vision, which outlines the current administration’s plan for creating a fair federal government and for improving customer experience. This effort, also known as the President’s Management Agenda (PMA), will be a multi staged, multiyear, administration-wide effort. It focuses heavily on improving customer experience with federal agencies, as well as hiring a workforce base with impressive qualifications, a diverse background, and technical talent. The second of three primary goals under the PMA is to deliver excellent, just, and secure federal government services and customer experience.
While the PMC intends to release a detailed implementation strategy in the future, it has mentioned two primary guidelines that they will be following.
- To improve service design and digital products. By making federal websites visually appealing and accessible, user experience will improve. Making websites straight-forward and user friendly will reduce customer burdens and streamline the usage process.
- By adapting government websites to mobile access, they’ll be more accessible.
- The government must create and prioritize services that aid customers across all federal agencies. With the improvement of solutions and aid, customer goals will be fulfilled.
Another federal action to encourage customer service was enacted through identifying High Impact Service Providers (HISPs), and having them create an annual customer service plan.
Their action items include:
- Consolidating and streamlining call centers
- Adding customer service surveys
- Developing and updating journey maps
- Improving digital capabilities
- Including customer service in strategic planning activities and governance structures
- Providing better customer service training for employees
These goals aim to refine and better customer service in order to improve government agencies. With these advances, HISPs hopes to raise the standard of customer experience across the nation.
The 21st Century IDEA and Customer Service
Accessibility and mobility are important factors to providing a base standard of customer service. In 2018, congress passed the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA). 21st Century IDEA aims to ensure that all federal agencies follow a number of guidelines.
- 508 compliance
- Possess standard secure connection capabilities such as HTTPS and DNSSEC
- Making government websites accessible to individuals with disabilities
- Maintaining a singular consistent appearance amongst an agency
- Having no content or information overlap with other government sites
- Featuring a search function for public use
- Designing around user needs and preferences that is backed up by customer analytics
- Making government information and websites fully functional and available on mobile devices
- Modernizing internal digital services for government employees
- Offering digital options for all paper-based forms and adopt the use of electronic signatures
These standards aim to improve customer experience by creating visually appealing and functionally sound mediums. Without easy access to government resources, not every customer will be properly served by the government. Without that service, the government’s purpose is unfulfilled.
For a More Perfect Union
From its inception, the goal of the U.S. government has been to serve the people. The new executive order, the PMA, and the 21st Century IDEA all strive to maintain this purpose by improving customer experience via federal websites and services, the federal workforce, and customer service. Through improved assets, new benefits, support services, consistent design and functionality, a well-trained and diverse workforce, and improved workplace standards, the Biden-Harris administration hopes to deliver superb, equitable services and customer experience to create a more perfect union.
View Carahsoft’s Customer Experience & Engagement Solutions Portfolio to learn how we support government agencies in their efforts to provide secure information to the public.