Survey: 1 in 3 Experience Slow Service Engaging With Government

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Despite progress, a recent survey indicates agencies still have room to improve service delivery.

More than one in three Americans report difficulties receiving service or accessing information from federal agencies, according to a survey released this month by Carahsoft Technology Corp.

According to the survey, 40% of respondents reported phone wait times of more than five minutes, while 39% said they experienced slower than normal mail delivery. One-third of those surveyed complained that information was “hard to find” on federal websites, and 13% reported wait times of more than two weeks for in-person or phone appointments.

The survey indicates about half of consumers rated the federal government’s customer experience performance during the pandemic “about the same” and four in ten said they hadn’t seen any improvement in service during the coronavirus crisis. Approximately one in five respondents reported privacy concerns over sharing information with federal agencies, and 18% said they could not tell the difference between official government communications and scams.

The survey indicates federal agencies still have significant room to improve service delivery despite increased awareness on the subject over the previous two administrations. Numerous outside analyses, including those conducted by organizations like Forrester Research, rate the federal government’s customer experience below every other major industry.

However, the survey did unearth some bright spots. About three in four respondents indicate a preference for self-service technology, and nearly 80% of those surveyed said they were somewhat or very likely to provide feedback to the federal government if they had a poor experience, and 76% said they’d report a bad experience with agencies with friends or through social media channels. In response to various legislation, many federal agencies are adding chief customer officers—or subsequent offices—to address customer experience and user feedback.

“This report highlights just how difficult it is to move the needle on citizen experience, but at the same time there are some bright spots,” Craig Abod, Carahsoft’s president, said in a statement. “Respondents have indicated that they are comfortable engaging with Government to provide feedback, and they are looking for Government to deploy the next-generation CX technology that offers both improved self-service functionality and security, similar to the experience offered by the private sector.”

The survey was conducted by market research firm Merit in October and November 2020 and polled 2,312 Americans.