The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) recently released the results of its latest survey. The headlines declared that customer satisfaction (CSAT) in federal government agencies is trending down for the first time in 11 years, dropping 1.1% to 68.9 (on a 0 to 100 scale). But headlines don’t tell the entire story. Many agencies are making great strides in improving citizen experience (CX), motivated in part by the President’s Management Agenda (PMA).
Despite the slight downturn, CSAT scores are up overall since 2008, reaching their second-highest level in that timeframe. This is an indication that federal agencies are meeting the PMA’s fourth cross-agency performance (CAP) goal, which states that federal agencies will modernize customer service and improve CX to reach the levels that citizens regularly experience in the private sector.
Congress is tackling CX head on. Both houses introduced bills to improve standard practicesand bring more accountability to the way citizens interact with the government. Additionally, the 21st Century Integrated Digital Experience Act (IDEA) was signed into law in late 2018. This legislation underscores that government agencies have bipartisan support to modernize websites, government services and forms, and provide digital service delivery, among other measures. With IDEA in place, and the rollout of Centers of Excellence at U.S. Department of Agriculture and U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development over the past two years, the federal government is working hard to bring improved CX to all citizens.
We at HighPoint are privileged to work with many federal agencies that are committed to improving CX and are actively working to fulfill those commitments. For example, the Pension Benefit Guaranty Corporation (PBGC), which protects the retirement security of nearly 37 million Americans, tied as the top-performing agency in the ACSI report, earning a score of 89 among retirees. The U.S. Departments of Defense and State both received higher-than-average scores on the ACSI survey, earning 78 and 73 respectively.
The U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) is also performing above average. It has set a goal for 2019 to enact an enterprise-wide data governance model, which should afford the agency better insight into its practices and allow for easy inter-agency sharing of key data streams.
Many agencies do not rely solely on the ACSI to gauge their CX performance. The PMA mandates that agencies should develop their own ways of tracking improved digital performance and CX. One office at the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services (CMS) indicated that recent internal CX survey scores are the highest they’ve ever been from citizens enrolling in health care. The agency is actively working to digitize both services and delivery, which should result in lower costs to citizens and less paperwork for stakeholders.
The team at Defense Logistics Agency (DLA) remains mission focused for Defense. A recent internal survey indicated that employees at DLA are more than satisfied with their work environment on 12 separate indicators. Employee satisfaction is often a good predictor of CSAT at a given agency.
Focus on CX is a priority. While the overall ACSI score may be down, some agencies are making progress. Congratulations to the agencies that are working to provide better experiences for customers. I am optimistic that federal agencies will move the needle to transform CX.