Center Blog

Creating a Customer-Centered Government


March 1, 2016

Eric Keller, Senior Manager, Partnership for Public Service


Citizens aren’t usually thrilled with how the federal government delivers services, but our next president will have a great opportunity to bring about important changes.

The federal government recently earned its lowest score on the American Customer Satisfaction Index in nearly a decade, suggesting that agencies are not as effective as they could be in meeting the needs of veterans, senior citizens, businesses, students and others seeking assistance.

Fortunately, many government leaders have acknowledged this problem and have launched efforts to improve, from making government websites more consistent and user-friendly, to appointing chief customer officers in their agencies.

The next president will have a choice: be prepared to capitalize on this momentum or risk a high-profile customer experience failure like the bungled launch of HealthCare.gov.

A new report by the Partnership for Public Service and Accenture Federal Services, “Government for the People,” is full of ideas that transition teams can recommend to help agencies meet the challenge of improving customer service. These include:

  • Collecting solid data to understand the citizen experience. Currently federal programs all ask different questions in their customer surveys, making it impossible to compare the customer experience across agencies. The presidential transition team should recommend implementation of standard survey questions across government to help identify successes to replicate and target improvement to where they are needed most.
  • Hiring customer experience experts. Several government agencies recently have implemented a chief customer officer position to lead improvements that will benefit citizens. The presidential transition team should recommend that new agency appointees appoint customer experience experts to help improve the way federal services are delivered.
  • Focusing on the workforce. Private-sector companies that deliver the best customer experience often spend as much time focused on their employees as they do on their customers. The commitment and satisfaction of the federal workforce is low, according to the Partnership’s Best Places to Work in the Federal Government® analysis. The transition team should emphasize the need for agencies and their new political leaders to focus on lifting employee morale as one means of building a more engaged workforce that will focus on improving services to citizens.

Read the full report.


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