New Study Reveals 60% of Federal Executives Recognize Citizens are “Frustrated” with Government Customer Service

Published on March 16, 2011 in Internet, Technology

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Executives Agree that More Transparency and Responsiveness is Needed

RESTON, Va. (March 16, 2011) – According to the survey, Citizen Engagement and Service in the Federal Space, commissioned by RightNow (NASDAQ:RNOW), and conducted by The Government Business Council (GBC), federal managers recognize that there is increased scrutiny from citizens to keep the public informed about the government’s work. Additionally, the Obama Administration’s Open Government Directive mandates an unprecedented level of transparency in government and requires agencies to be responsive to citizen requests and inquiries for information. Despite efforts to enhance transparency and connect with citizens, this survey found that 60% of federal executives recognize that citizens are “frustrated” with government’s ability to engage and service the public. This research exposes an opportunity for federal government agencies to enhance citizen engagement efforts utilizing mobile and web based communications channels.

The purpose of the survey, conducted in February 2011, was to gain an understanding of the current state of citizen service and engagement from the point of view of government employees. The survey’s intention was to understand how well government is performing in both the delivery of information to, and in interactions with, citizens. Respondents were asked to base their perspective on experiences as government employees, as well as citizens receiving services from government.

The Results

Notably, this survey revealed several areas of opportunity where federal agencies could implement citizen experience strategies to enhance government transparency and communication. Some of the findings are detailed below:

  • Federal executives recognize citizens’ frustration with government. In fact, nearly 60 percent of respondents describe citizens’ attitude towards government as “frustrated”.
  • Federal executives see a gap between how transparent government currently is and how transparent it should be. 40 percent of respondents think government is “somewhat” or “very” closed; while 90 percent agree that it should be “very” or “somewhat” transparent.
  • A similar gap was revealed in government responsiveness to citizens. While 97 percent of federal executives believe government should be “very” or “somewhat” responsive to citizens, only 45 percent view government as responsive today.
  • The importance of sharing information and informing citizens of agency work is not lost on federal executives, as 90 percent believe it is “very” or “somewhat” necessary to inform citizens of agency work. Yet, managers award only average grades to agency efforts to make information available online. Federal executives agree that they will increase their agency’s information sharing in the future.

Opportunities for Improvement

Another recent survey, the 2010 Federal Customer Experience Study, reveals that Americans want the federal government to improve customer service, and many are willing to pay for the upgrade. In fact, 83 percent of Americans say that customer service is something that federal agencies can improve, while 42 percent of Americans say they would pay an additional $10 in taxes each year for better citizen service from government

  • Help Citizens Help Themselves: Web self-service solutions empower customers to easily find the information they need anywhere, anytime, without the need for agent assistance. The principles behind self-service applications are simple
  • Design Seamless Multi-Channel & Cross-Channel Citizen Experiences: Internet access, mobile devices, social media, and chat have emerged as major communication tools. Organizations that embrace these channels can provide world-class citizen service. To achieve success, organizations need to create citizen service interfaces that are easy to use, responsive to issues and problems, and provide a unified, consistent cross-channel experience.
  • Listen and Engage Proactively: Agencies cannot meet or exceed citizen expectations if they don’t know what those expectations are. It’s critical to proactively seek out and understand the citizen voice, and to integrate feedback functions with the external citizen experience channels. By utilizing a set of analytical tools and applications that deliver deep, actionable insight, agencies can build credibility and save time and money by communicating the right message, to the right person, at the right time across the web, social and contact center
  • Continuously Measure and Improve: Regularly evaluate the channels and the information used to inform and interact with citizens to ensure that resources are deployed appropriately and to quickly respond to changing priorities.

Survey Methodology

The Citizen Engagement and Service in the Federal Space online survey intended to test the current state of citizen engagement in the United States federal government. The survey was launched on February 8 and closed on February 16 and was emailed to a sample of randomly selected federal executives from the Government Executive subscriber database.

In total, 204 federal employees, representing civilian and defense agencies, completed the survey. Of that total, over 65 percent consisted of respondents from the GS/GM grade 13 or above, and 68 percent managed at least one direct report. The survey assessed the respondents’ view of citizen service, engagement and progress that government has made towards becoming more transparent.

To learn more about the Citizen Engagement with the Federal Government Survey, to receive the survey details and to hear a real world best practice from the Social Security Administration on improving citizen service and engagement, please join us for a webcast on March 22 at 2:00 p.m. (ET). To register to attend the webcast, click here.

About RightNow Technologies

RightNow is helping rid the world of bad experiences one interaction at a time, eight million times a day. A leader in bringing the Cloud delivery model to government, RightNow has successfully served the US government for more than ten years. RightNow CX, the customer experience suite, helps agencies deliver exceptional customer experiences across the web, social networks and contact centers, all delivered via the secure government cloud. With RightNow, agencies are able to drive citizen engagement, reduce the cost of operations and increase information transparency within the secure government cloud.

Over 170 government agencies, including nearly every U.S. cabinet level agency, Army, Marines, Air Force, members of the Intelligence Community, and DoD, rely on RightNow’s cloud-based solutions to answer the call for better citizen service

RightNow is a registered trademark of RightNow Technologies, Inc. NASDAQ is a registered trademark of the NASDAQ Stock Market.

Source: RightNow Technologies

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