Less than half of federal employees say their agency measures customer service effectiveness, exposing a critical gap—and a crucial first step.
OMB Circular A-11 Section 280: What it Means for Government Customer Service
OMB Circular A-11 Section 280 gives guidance for agencies to enhance the customer experience (CX). By focusing on improvements in five core functions of the CX maturity model—measurement, governance and strategy, culture and organization, customer understanding, and service design—it’s intended to make the CX across government more consistent, comprehensive, and robust.
Source: OMB Circular A-11 Section 280
So what’s a federal manager to do? Fortunately, Eagle Hill’s data holds answers, too. We will continue to share them with you over the coming weeks.
This article focuses on measurement, one of the core customer experience functions described in OMB Circular A-11 Section 280. Given that our survey found scant evidence of uniform approaches to measuring customer service performance at either the organizational or individual levels, Eagle Hill sees measurement as a clear starting point for agencies looking to improve.
Federal employee responses indicate need for better measurement
The majority of federal employees say their agency effectively addresses the needs of its customers, yet few have formal ways to prove it. In Eagle Hill’s survey, more than half of the respondents (56 percent) say their agency does not measure customer service effectiveness at all (Figure 1). Nearly two out of three (63 percent) say their federal agencies do not provide them with customer satisfaction scores/metrics (Figure 2).
Measure by measure, service gets better
Eagle Hill suggests that governments looking to take a cue on customer service from the private sector would also do well to adopt one of its primary axioms: if you don’t measure it, you can’t manage it.
Measurement is the foundation of improvement. Customer service has multiple facets—which ones in your agency are already sparkling? Which ones need polish? Federal agencies asking employees for improvement without the guidance that metrics provide are asking employees to hit targets in the dark.
But it’s also important to remember that collecting data is not the same as acting on it. Staff need more than just performance expectations, they need specifics and they need the training to support their achievement. (A recent Eagle Hill opinion piece by Jack Kelley, “What’s Your Blue Line?: Measuring what matters most to your business,” explains how making performance measures simple, visible and actionable makes them effective. Find it here.)
A great starting point for governments would be to assign responsibility and accountability for customer service at the front lines by instituting customer service metrics and incentives into performance management evaluations and career planning at every level of the organization.
Then, when employees hit or exceed their customer service mark, they should be shown the value of their efforts through a formalized reward system. Scarce resources that limit the size of the government workforce mean every employee must be fully engaged. Seeking out, acting on, and rewarding employee ideas will ignite your customer service efforts while contributing to an improved workplace environment (and, longer term, agency recruiting and retention efforts).
The 2018 Eagle Hill Consulting Federal Government Customer Service Survey was conducted online by Government Business Council between June and July 2018. The online survey included 625 respondents from a random sample of respondents across the Federal Government (including civilian and Department of Defense agencies).
Visit www.eaglehillconsulting.com/customerservice to follow the series.