To Improve Customer Experience, Start With Morale, Not Technology, Feds Say

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Cultural factors, such as empowerment of staff, given greater weight than upgraded IT and bigger budgets.

It’s no secret that federal agencies are under pressure to improve their dismal ratings in the area of customer experience. And when it comes to actually making that happen, federal employees think cultural factors are more important information technology or budgetary issues.

In a new survey of 625 respondents across a range of federal agencies, when asked what factors would significantly improve customer service in government, 69 percent listed “enhanced workplace morale.” And 61 percent cited “empowerment of customer service delivery staff.”

By contrast, 54 percent of respondents listed “improved information technology” as holding the potential to have a significant impact on improving customer service, and 45 percent mentioned “additional financial resources.”

The survey on improving federal customer service was conducted for Eagle Hill Consulting by the Government Business Council, the research arm of Government Executive Media Group. Click here for more on the survey results.

“Eagle Hill’s research finds the cultural infrastructure clearly isn’t in place to successfully deliver a better customer experience,” said Melissa Jezior, the firm’s president and chief executive officer. “For example, agencies can start by improving employee morale and empowering customer-facing employees. Yes, technology solutions and financial resources are essential, but more coding and dollars can’t drive better service when there are culture and people issues.”

Fully 70 percent of those surveyed said customer service was a core value of their agency, ranking higher than such items as teamwork and collaboration (64 percent) and service to country (50 percent). But less than half of employees said their agencies were effective at the activities identified as the core elements of customer service, such as measuring customer satisfaction and empowering employees to use such data.