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General Services Administration

Improving the customer experience with federal services

Helping GSA and OMB achieve the customer experience Cross-Agency Priority goal by developing a government-wide, lightweight, low-cost, streamlined mechanism for collecting customer feedback

About GSA

The General Services Administration (GSA) is an independent agency of the United States government established in 1949 to help manage and support the basic functioning of federal agencies. GSA supplies products and communications for U.S. government offices, provides transportation and office space to federal employees, and develops government-wide cost-minimizing policies and other management tasks.

The challenge

How might we improve the customer experience of federal services across the entire government?

Whether seeking a loan, Social Security benefits, Veterans benefits, or other services provided by the Federal Government, individuals and businesses expect Government services to be efficient and intuitive, just like they experience in interactions with leading private-sector organizations. Yet the 2016 American Consumer Satisfaction Index and the 2017 Forrester Federal Customer Experience Index show that, on average, Federal Government services are ranked last, and lag nine percentage points behind the national average of all industries. Many federal services fail to meet not just the expectations of the public, but also the policy objective they were created for, creating unnecessary hassle and cost for citizens and businesses and undermining mission effectiveness.

Private sector companies have faced similar challenges, but have demonstrated that adopting a proven set of customer-focused practices can not only increase satisfaction and lead to product innovation, but also reduce cost. Companies have shown a shift towards focusing on customer experience reduced their customer care costs by as much as 33%.

As part of the President’s Management Agenda, a Cross-Agency Priority (CAP) goal was established focused on improving the customer experience with Federal services. This initiative aims to transform the customer experience by improving the usability and reliability of our Federal Government’s most critical digital services; create measurable improvements in customer satisfaction by using the principles and practices proven by leading private sector organizations; increase trust in the Federal Government by improving the experience citizens and businesses have with Federal services whether online, in-person, or via phone; and leverage technology to break down barriers and increase communication between Federal agencies and the citizens they serve.

As part of this effort, the CX CAP goal team conducted extensive research to develop the first-ever government-wide customer experience metrics. Outlined in OMB Circular A-11 (a document that instructs agencies how to complete their annual planning and budgeting process), 27 High Impact Service Providers (HISPs) are required to begin implementing these measures. HISPs are those Federal entities designated by the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) that provide the most high-impact customer-facing services, either due to a large customer base or a high impact on those served by the program. However, these HISPs range across the full spectrum of maturity in their customer experience approach, let alone possess sophisticated customer feedback and measurement strategies.

The OMB CAP goal team, which OPP sits on, is a coordinated effort between the Office of Management and Budget, Veterans Experience Office, the Office of Customer Experience at GSA, and the United States Digital Service. OPP is leading the development of a government-wide, lightweight, low-cost, streamlined mechanism for collecting customer feedback.