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GSA’s Customer Experience Credo: Be a Good Listener

Rena Schild/

The customers may not always be right, but listening to their feedback could pay off big time.

That’s the approach the General Services Administration has taken as part of a governmentwide effort to enhance customer satisfaction, championed all the way from the top by Administrator Denise Turner Roth.

The long-time civil servant took over after former Administrator Dan Tangherlini left after nearly three years on the job in February this year. In August, Turner Roth was officially confirmed as GSA administrator—having served 18 years in government.

Turner Roth, who spoke Oct. 27 at ACT-IAC’s annual Executive Leadership Conference in Williamsburg, Virginia, said one of the best ways to measure success is simply by listening to customers—and then tweaking the product based on their feedback.

“We have to set out those expectations in terms of what do we want to achieve by the end of the year, and by the end of three years and then ensure that we provide the resources to get there,” she said. “And ultimately, the market will demand these resources or not, and we have to be willing to readjust accordingly."

GSA’s focus on the customer is part of recent years’ bigger federal effort to improve the customer experience, which has been ranked downright terrible. In particular, listening and understanding the customer has been “transformational,” GSA’s Chief Customer Chief Phaedra Chrousos said earlier this year. It's something Roth Turner echoed, highlighting how GSA has doubled down on understanding customer responses and measuring metrics of performance and customer satisfaction.

Whether it’s acquisition or operational, “we have a customer on the other side; it’s no longer 'we build something and you must use it,' but it’s 'we build something and you actually want to use it',” she said.

(Image via Rena Schild/

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