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What the federal government can learn about citizen service from its best performing ASCI agencies

While the latest figures on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ASCI) are down when it comes to federal government services, there are still some great examples of excellent customer experience. The latest figures show a 1.2% drop to 68.1% on the ASCI’s 100-point scale, but some areas have held strong. Here, we look at what are the best examples of customer service in the federal government and reveal what other areas can learn from them.

myStudentAid – engaging students through the right channels

With its rating of 88, myStudentAid surpasses all private sector companies that are measured by the ASCI. And it’s not hard to understand why – it enables its audience to interact with the Department of Education both when they want and using the medium they prefer. Forty-five per cent of current students received a mobile service plan when they were aged between 10-12, so it makes sense that the service evolved to be managed by an app, rather than with paper forms or even websites.

But the medium isn’t the whole story; crucially the app brings everything that a student needs in one place. Students can now even apply for student financing through the app’s large displays and simple design.

Other federal services can learn from this example by thinking about who the people are that use their service and communicating with them on their terms. The creators behind the app understand that students are busy people, and this enables them to manage their needs at a time and in a way that is convenient for them.

Department of Agriculture's Food Safety Inspection Service – prioritizing functionality

Scoring 85 from users of its Office of the Chief Information Officer Service Desk, the Food Safety Inspection Service (FSIS) is a textbook example of the beauty of functionality. Of all the areas that declined across all departments, website quality was one of the areas that held firm and with examples like the FSIS website, it’s easy to understand why. It’s not pretty, but it’s easy and simple to navigate to find what you need. Every form that you could ever need are stored in one area and are easy to fill and send on.

The lesson from this is to always think about your end user and prioritize a simple experience above visual gimmicks. Simplicity is key to providing a great service.

The Department of the Interior – investing in quality customer experience

With a satisfaction rating of 78, the Department of the Interior is cruising at the top of the leader board in comparison to all the other federal departments, as it has done for many years. Social media may hold the clues as to why. With more than five million followers on Twitter, the Department of the Interior has one of the largest fanbases but it’s not just about the followers. Photos of sprawling mountains in North Carolina, Wolf Creek Falls in Oregon and a frozen Dream Lake in Colorado regularly receive upwards of 1,000 likes and retweets. The public are happy to engage with the department.

Here, the message is simple: Whatever you do, do well, be proud of it and shout about it. While not every federal department benefits from picturesque landscapes, they all do crucial work that benefits society – even on an abstract level. Invest in good quality photos and show your customers that you offer a fantastic service.

Conclusion – citizens will engage where customer experience excels

Americans are becoming less satisfied with federal services every year, but it doesn’t have to be this way. The three examples above prove that there are ways to create government services that customers genuinely enjoy using and take pride in supporting. All the best examples selected above are using relevant technology to connect with their audience. These are lessons that the majority of government services all over the world can learn from.

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