The American people deserve a Government that is responsive to their needs. Citizens and businesses expect government services to be well-designed, efficient, and generally comparable to the services they receive from leading private sector organizations. Whether they call the IRS for an answer to a tax question or visit a Social Security Administration office to adjust their benefits, they should experience high-quality interactions with the Federal Government. Despite some important strides to improve customer service over the past fifteen years, too often many Federal Government services fail to meet the expectations of citizens and business, creating unnecessary hassle and cost for citizens, businesses, and the government itself. The Federal Government must keep pace with the public’s expectations and transform its customer services – soliciting regular customer feedback, streamlining processes, and delivering consistent quality service across customer channels.
To that end, in April 2011 the President issued an Executive Order requiring each agency to develop a customer service plan that identified implementation steps for their customer service activities, including a "signature initiative" that uses technology to improve the customer experience. Agencies posted the plans on their Open Government websites in October 2011, and this goal will build on these plans to streamline and improve customer service delivery.
To build upon the progress being made by individual agencies, the Administration is taking action to deliver improved customer service across the Federal enterprise. The Administration will:
- Streamline transactions. Too often the processes and procedures of government have been developed piecemeal over time, and have not been regularly reexamined to ensure they are designed with the user experience in mind. The Administration will identify transactions with a high impact on a significant number of citizens and streamline processes, better meet customer needs, and use performance measures to improve services. This includes areas such as TSA security screening, veterans’ pension and disability applications, income-based repayment of student loans, Social Security, and taxpayer assistance.
- Develop standards for high impact services. Citizen expectations for government services are continually increasing, driven by improvements in technology and the high quality services provided by the private sector. Government leaders have a responsibility to understand customer expectations and service needs, and continually evaluate and improve their effectiveness in meeting those needs. To facilitate this, many government programs that provide direct services to the public can benefit from setting customer service standards, clearly communicating these standards to customers, and ensuring these standards are being met. The Administration will identify best practices in setting customer service standards, such as placing an emphasis on first contact resolution, and facilitate implementation of these practices for high impact services.
- Utilize technology to improve the customer experience. The Administration will work to deliver world-class customer services to citizens by making it faster and easier for individuals and businesses to complete transactions with government online. Given the continually growing importance of online services, the Administration has established a separate Cross-Agency Priority Goal to focus resources and attention on this priority area.