Post-COVID-19 Citizen Experience Report

This study examines the experiences of more than 2,000 constituents who have interacted with Federal agencies since the start of the pandemic.


COVID-19, as we all know, has shifted our collective behavior to contactless interactions in nearly every facet of our lives. Accelerated adoption of digital efficiencies during the pandemic has created an enterprise-level need for businesses and organizations across the globe to upgrade, from telemedicine to curbside pick-up. In fact, as you read this, contactless service is being honed in nearly all sectors.

While enhancements are felt throughout customer experiences in the commercial realm, this survey found that customer experiences, specifically in regard to interactions with the Federal Government, are poised for improvement.

92.39% of constituents saw no improvement in their experiences with Federal agencies since the pandemic impacted nearly everything in our collective world

To support the much-needed shift towards positive citizen experience when dealing with Federal agencies, we’ve outlined the key needs and expectations that emerged from this research:

COVID or Not, Citizens Want to Do It Themselves

36.41% prefer to complete self-service transactions with the Federal Government via a desktop computer or laptop

Enter the pandemic of 2020, and many people began to work from home on their desktops or laptops. Where individuals preferred mobile phones for many personal actions in 2018 – perhaps because personal computing was restricted during work hours – the luxury and efficiency of the desktop experience has made a significant comeback.

How do you prefer to complete transactions with Government and/or non-Government organizations, including self-service options?

Chart - How do you prefer to complete transactions with organizations

For older Americans, AARP reports that half of adults ages 50 and older use their tablets every day. While mobile still rules for social networking, when people get down to personal business, desktops and tablets are the devices of choice.

Tablet daily use rates among owners 50+ in age

Chart - Tablet daily use rates among owners 50+ in age

AARP 2020 Tech and the 50+ Survey, AARP Research, December 2019

Feedback Is Now a Cultural Expectation

Ability to give feedback on the experience is part of the experience, and providers are judged not only on the primary interface but also on post-engagement communication.

Many people believe that Federal and commercial service providers would appreciate their feedback, particularly if they are dissatisfied with the service they’ve received.

78.66% said they were somewhat likely to provide feedback to the Federal Government if they had a poor experience

87.12% would do the same for non-Government poor experiences

Over 75% of respondents reported they were likely to tell their friends and/or post to their social channels about a poor experience, whether dealing with the Government or not.

In the previous year, Forbes research showed that only 30% of consumers who had a negative experience said they would share it on social media or leave a negative review online.

Chart - percentage of respondents sharing a negative experience

But what about the good experiences?

In general, people tend not to share positive experiences quite as much as negative experiences.

36% reported that they have not shared a positive experience with any provider

69.85% said they have posted positive experiences on their social channels

Data Safety Is a Perceived Personal Threat

A significant number of people (25.3%) are concerned that their data is not safe with the Federal Government or that the Government might sell their data.

Note: This survey was deployed prior to the reporting of the 2020 data breach of many U.S. agencies. We suspect if a poll was taken now, the percentages of people concerned with Federal Government and data safety would be significantly higher.

In regard to Federal Agencies:

22.66% had concerns with privacy of information and the risk of being hacked

17.58% feared they could be scammed

15.77% were concerned their data could be shared

17.58% were concerned that they could not tell the difference between communications from the Federal Government and a scam

Digital Tech Is No Longer Just for Digital Natives

Respondents told us:

“The websites that I have interacted with seem to be running on old software and are not user friendly to use.”

“If I can do 99.99% of my banking on a website or app, I should be able to view my IRS taxes, file my taxes, apply through USA Jobs, or take care of any other Government need with the same ease.”

“Straighten out your databases and coordinate your computers/servers to all have access to the same info.”

Untimely Service Is Still an Issue for Many Americans

How untimely is untimely? That is, of course, a matter of subjectivity, depending upon whom you ask. For some callers, five minutes is an atrociously long time. For some providers, five minutes may be in the range of acceptable service.

In regard to Federal Agencies:

39.82% reported wait times over five minutes

33.41% reported that information was hard-to-find on Federal websites

If you’ve made it this far, you should read the full report.

Download the full report for a more in-depth look at how constituents view their Federal Government experiences and pertinent facts about how the world views the evolution of customer experience during the pandemic.

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