Mar 05 2020

Customer Service Takes Priority at Federal Agencies

New technologies and management goals put citizens’ needs at the top of the list.

Measuring citizen satisfaction with the federal government can be a tricky ­prospect. As the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index notes, some agencies “offer services that ­citizens would prefer not to experience.”

The thought of audits aside, U.S. citizens want the same kind of customer service and experience from the government as they get from private sector companies — maybe even better.

Knowing this, the White House placed customer service high on its list of priorities, with “Improving Customer Experience with Federal Services” as a top cross-agency priority (CAP) goal in the President’s Management Agenda.

“Whether seeking a loan, Social Security benefits, veterans’ benefits or other services provided by the federal government, individuals and businesses expect government customer services to be efficient and intuitive, just like services from the private sector,” the PMA states.

While most CAP goal milestones aren’t due until later this year, there are already signs that the government is working hard to bolster the quality of service to Americans.

Updated Technology Means a Better Citizen Experience

The State Department, for instance, is installing smart building technology at its hundreds of locations across the globe, trying not only to save money on utilities, but also to give its own employees better and more centralized control over their systems.

And agencies such as the Indian Health Service and the Department of Education are battling technology as much as 50 years old to make sure that citizens’ information is better protected and federal workers can conduct business without fear of catastrophic technology failures.

These are only a few of the examples happening as agencies work to improve their reputation with 330 million demanding customers, who want to see their money spent in ways that benefit them without going to waste. The federal government will never operate exactly the same as the private sector, but the ambition to achieve better customer service — and to modernize how it does business through newer technology — is a goal to be admired.

Chainarong Prasertthai/Getty Images

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