A new report from the Partnership for Public Service and Accenture finds that while the Federal government has made progress over the past year in improving customer experience and addressing customer feedback, the Feds still have a ways to go in meeting customer needs.

The report issued on Oct. 6 – Government for the People: Serving the Public in a New World – updates the Partnership for Public Service’s inaugural look a year ago on the Federal government’s progress on customer service.

The report’s primary takeaway emphasizes three service delivery principles that it says can help Federal agencies improve customer service during the coronavirus pandemic and beyond. The first is to “quickly understand changing customer needs and pivot accordingly,” followed by “empower employees to deliver services to anywhere, from anywhere.” Finally, the report urges agencies to accelerate self-service capabilities.

While noting progress over the past 12 months in Federal agency customer service – and especially during the COVID-19 pandemic – the report urges agencies to more widely adopt five practices to improve that performance:

  • Setting key performance measures based on customer feedback;
  • Assigning a senior executive to lead on customer experience;
  • Collecting, analyzing and sharing customer feedback publicly;
  • Providing support and answering questions on social media; and
  • Focusing on the experience of people who help others navigate Federal services.

“Faced with the challenge of delivering services during an unprecedented crisis, many agencies quickly adopted new strategies to meet changing customer needs,” the report says. “These enhancements should be embraced as the new normal for how government works, not just something it does during a crisis.”

“Though the pandemic generated a shock to government, it only highlights the need for greater agility when engaging with the public,” it says.

On the policy front, the report recommends that customer experience “remain a centerpiece of the President’s Management Agenda, and urges Feds to set “ambitious, government-wide goal to improve customer trust in government.” It also urges the government to create a centralized team to manage customer experience efforts with “a government-wide perspective,” and to establish a standardized position description for customer experience strategists in government.

“We want to help the government chart the course forward on this issue,” said Eric Keller, a senior manager at the Partnership for Public Service, at a virtual event on Oct. 6 organized to release the new report. The new report, he said, also reflects the rising demand for government services over the past years. “People want more from government, and they want it better,” he said.

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John Curran
John Curran
John Curran is MeriTalk's Managing Editor covering the intersection of government and technology.