Federal agencies have made many improvements in customer service in recent years, in some cases in response to the pandemic, but “they often miss the issue of why those activities were needed, failing to identify or address the underlying issues from the perspective of the customer,” a report has said.
“This game of whack-a-mole offers the potential for success only on the margins” and represents a missed opportunity, says a report by the Partnership for Public Service and the Accenture consulting firm.
“Federal leaders have built a solid foundation of customer experience policy, practices and guidance in their efforts to better understand customers and build services with a customer lens. And the Biden administration has set an ambitious bar with new initiatives aimed at advancing equal opportunity. But with the momentum of a new administration, federal leaders should also take a hard look at the additional progress needed to reverse the public trust deficit and make lasting improvements,” it said.
It cited developments such as improved websites, automation of complicated processing, use of plain English instead of jargon, and greater use of customer satisfaction surveys. But it noted that those surveys reveal that people rate their satisfaction with a particular service more highly than they rate the agency providing the service.
“This disparity suggests agencies’ customer experience efforts are not capitalizing on the opportunity to improve trust . . . Although individuals may appreciate the parts of government they interact with frequently, such as the U.S. Postal Service and the Transportation Security Administra¬tion, these beliefs do not yet affect their views of the federal government overall.”
Recommendations include (in the report’s words): create and implement comprehensive, ongoing and inclusive “listening” and research strategies for customer experience; integrate services and service channels for a more seamless and equitable customer journey; design and deliver services from the customers’ perspectives, using human-centered design, and measure the success of these efforts to reduce administrative burden; and strengthen organizational capacity—technology, talent and leadership—for equitable, accessible and customer-centered work.