Customer experience scores across nearly every other industry dropped.
The past year was a tough one for U.S. consumers amid an ongoing pandemic, political tumult and rising inflation, and those challenges bore out in poorer customer experience scores across almost all industry verticals, according to the 2022 U.S. Customer Experience Index published by Forrester.
The annual rankings, which measure the customer experience quality of 221 brands across 13 industries, found scores dipped among 19% of all brands—the highest proportion of brands to drop over a single year in the survey’s history.
However, scores among federal agencies held steady with last year’s scores—a feat Forrester Vice President and Research Director Rick Parrish called “a win.”
“So many industries went down, but the federal average remained flat—in most years, I would be disappointed, but this year, I’m calling stability a win,” he told Nextgov Friday. “Of course we want to see scores go up, but in a year when one in five organizations declined and most industry averages declined, stability is something.”
The index measures scores on a 100-point scale, factoring in key drivers of customer experience quality. The U.S. federal average this year was 62.3, statistically identical to last year’s average of 62.6.
The only statistically significant score differences year over year for any of the 15 key federal agencies and services measured were Tricare, which increased almost 3 percentage points to 69.9, and the IRS, which decreased almost 6 percentage points to 48.6. Overall, IRS overtook USBAJOBS.gov for the worst score among all federal services. Parrish posited that IRS scores suffered due in part to tax filing delays and trust issues caused by revelations that the tax-collecting agency began requiring users to submit a selfie video as part of a new identity verification system during the online fax filing process.
During the COVID-19 pandemic, customer experience scores generally increased among industries as companies and federal agencies invested heavily in various sprints to improve—or at least maintain—services. Parrish suggested one reason for the downturn in customer experience scores over the past year is burnout.
“It isn’t expectations that are the culprit here, it’s the fact that a lot of organizations worked really hard for a year and a half into a pandemic and they are tired, people are tired,” Parrish said. “Up and down the chain in every department, there is a lot of burnout from sprints and big investments made early on to improve things. Organizations are trying to coast on them now and they are finding they can’t.”
Parrish said Forrester intends to release its U.S. Federal CX Index later this summer that will zero in on federal agencies.