Citizen Satisfaction Inches Upward
Citizen Satisfaction Inches Upward
Government websites scored higher in citizen satisfaction than the federal government overall for the first time ever on the University of Michigans American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI). The fourth quarter e-Government ACSI increased 2.5 percent since this time last year to 73.9. Overall federal government, which is measured by the ACSI annually in the fourth quarter, scored 71.3.
Quarter over quarter, the ACSI E-Government scores climbed a relatively small 0.6 percent, but the increase is the third in as many quarters. Last year, overall government and e-Government scores were tied at 72.1.
Federal e-Government is continuing to make improvements to better satisfy users, said Professor Claes Fornell, director of the National Quality Research Center at the University of Michigan and founder of the ACSI. Government websites still lag their private sector counterparts by a significant margin, but they are reducing the satisfaction gap with the private sector.
ACSI satisfaction scores are based on a 100-point scale and are calculated through a sophisticated formula based on surveys of site users that measure the impact of increasing customer satisfaction on future consumer behavior, such as likelihood to return to the website and recommend it to others.
The continued upward trend in e-Government citizen satisfaction is not surprising, considering that federal websites are continuing to evolve into critical channels for good government, said Larry Freed, president and CEO of ForeSee Results and author of the report. An important early step in that evolutionary process is to capture the voice of the citizen, and were seeing that more and more, as evidenced by increased participation in the Index. But the key to improving citizen satisfaction is taking action on that data, and the climbing Index reflects those results.
One web site to implement user satisfaction research is the U.S. General Services Administrations main website. Formerly one of the ACSIs poorest performers, the GSA has made several incremental changes to its web site based on citizen user research. In one years time, its citizen satisfaction score improved over 20 percent, and this quarters score of 67 is three points higher than last quarter. Furthermore, GSAs Office of Citizen Services and Communications (OCSC) relaunched an improved website on November 1; its effects are not yet reflected in the Index.
Weve found the ACSI data to be very helpful in identifying areas that improve the online experience for our site visitors, said OCSC associate administrator MJ Pizzella. The secret of our continued improvement can also be credited to the mandates of the Presidents Management Agenda to make government more citizen centric and results oriented, and the evidence of our progress is in the increased scores and use of our site.
Participation in the Index is up again, now including 89 federal websites. Also this quarter, 16 sites, or 18 percent of the total number of measured sites, scored 80 or better, a superior score for any web site, private or public sector. A year ago, only 13 percent of the 54 e-government sites scored 80 or above. In the private sector, 27 percent (6 of 22) of service industry web sites scored at least 80, which demonstrates that e-government sites are narrowing the gap with private service sector sites at the top end of the spectrum.
At the other end of the spectrum, 21 percent of the e-government sites this quarter had scores below 70, which is indicative of the struggle many agencies face in bringing their information and operations online. Even though these agencies have taken the first step to solicit direct citizen feedback, they may not have the resources at hand to implement the changes that will improve citizen satisfaction. Also, putting agency information on the web can vastly expand the number of citizens that seek out the information, which poses the challenge of educating new users about how to navigate, understand and use the sites.
Many e-government websites are achieving higher levels of customer satisfaction,” said Anne Kelly, CEO of Treasury’s Federal Consulting Group. “These successes reflect this Administration’s emphasis on expanding electronic government by having citizens conduct more interaction through the Internet.”
Once again, the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services National Institute of Health dominated the strong performers, and the Social Security Administration had three of the top performing web sites. Several federal agencies have web sites measured in the ACSI, including CIA, FDIC, FEMA, Department of Justice, General Accounting Office, Social Security Administration, and USDA.
A complete list of ACSI e-Government scores is available at http://www.theacsi.org/government.htm.
About the ACSI The American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) is the only uniform, national, cross-industry measure of satisfaction with the quality of goods and services available in the United States. In 1999, the Federal government selected the ACSI to be a standard metric for measuring citizen satisfaction. Over 55 Federal government agencies have used the ACSI to measure citizen satisfaction of more than 110 services and programs. The Index is produced by the University of Michigan in partnership with the American Society for Quality (ASQ) and CFI Group, an international consulting firm. ForeSee Results sponsors the e-commerce, e-business and e-government indices. The Federal Consulting Group, a franchise within the Department of the Treasury, is the executive agent for the ACSI and the federal government.