May 05, 2015 | Dave Lewan

Improving the Federal Customer Experience: Feedback vs. Measurement in Digital Government


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For over 20 years—starting with the Government Performance and Results Act of 1993 (GPRA) to the recent customer service cross-agency priority goals—federal agencies have been grappling with tactics and strategies to improve their performance in delivering customer service to citizens.

The ForeSee E-Government Satisfaction Index

In The ForeSee E-Government Satisfaction Index (Q1, 2015)—released today and available for download here—we pay special attention to the concept of “performance measurement” as it relates to digital government (web and mobile) channels. Performance is often measured by what happened in the past. But to improve performance, you need to go beyond what happened in the past to help determine where and how to improve. And the best way to understand where and how to improve a digital experience is to measure it the right way.

Many times when visiting with federal agency leaders and digital managers, I find that discussions center on feedback and surveys to get visitors’ opinions.  Herein lies the problem. There is a critical difference between feedback and measurement: feedback is reactive, and measurement is proactive.

Feedback is important because it offers some insights you can and should react to (broken links, images not rendering, missing pages, etc.), but it doesn’t help you proactively identify big-picture needs. ForeSee data consistently shows that people are more likely to speak up when they have a bad experience, less likely when they have a good experience and hardly ever when they’re somewhere in the middle. This means there is a silent majority going unheard, and this expansive group can quietly undermine an organization’s digital performance if their expectations and needs—the basis of customer satisfaction—are not met.

Measurement, on the other hand, allows you to proactively listen to the voice of the masses. Using a credible, reliable, precise, accurate, actionable and predictive measurement methodology can show agency managers how their digital channels are performing in the eyes of all of the citizens they serve—not just the squeaky wheels. Better yet, actionable and predictive customer experience measurement prescribes where improvements should be made and illustrates the likely outcomes those improvements will yield so you know exactly where to invest limited time, money and resources.

If government agencies truly want to increase performance levels, being proactive is necessary. All of the federal agencies and departments measured in The ForeSee E-Government Satisfaction Index (Q1, 2015) understand this, and the fact that some federal websites measured in the index score higher in satisfaction than leading private sector websites makes a strong case for the efficacy of using a proven measurement methodology to inform digital government improvements.

If agencies can deliver a satisfactory experience, the likelihood of desired outcomes is increased. For example, in this quarter’s index, highly satisfied website visitors were 84% more likely to use the website as a primary resource (versus a more costly channel like the contact center) and 88% more likely to put their trust behind the agency. For mobile, those who were highly satisfied with their experience were 62% more likely to return to the site or app and a whopping 93% more likely to recommend it.

For more on how federal agencies can measure performance to improve and to see how over 100 federal websites are performing in terms of citizen satisfaction, download The ForeSee E-Government Satisfaction Index (Q1, 2015).

Categories: Government

About the Author

Dave Lewan is responsible for managing the organization focused on the public sector, including federal and state government departments and agencies, non-profit organizations, associations and higher education institutions. He is charged with defining strategy and leveraging internal resources to initiate new business opportunities while delivering to existing ForeSee public-sector clients. Dave is also responsible for ForeSee’s growing Canadian business including public and private sectors. In 2016, Dave will serve as ForeSee liaison with the Partnership for Public Service for the Center for Presidential Transition, in an effort to educate some 4,000 appointees who will enter into the federal government from the private sector as part of the new administration. Prior to joining ForeSee in 2009, Dave led in key strategic areas at ADP, SalesLogix, Ultimate Software and Ceridian. Dave graduated from the University of Minnesota with a degree in speech communications.

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