The United States government has decided it’s time to raise the bar on the level of service it provides to customers. The U.S. House of Representatives recently passed the bipartisan Customer Service Improvement Act, which is designed to hold federal agencies accountable for the quality of service they provide. This may be a welcome addition to the work of the U.S. government, which has not exactly been leading the customer service charge over the past few decades. Now, representatives will send their new service bill to the senate to see if it can garner the same support there.
About the Customer Service Improvement Act
The Customer Service Improvement Act was introduced to the House of Representatives by Rep. Henry Cueller (D-Texas). Cueller told the Government Executive that federal lawmakers consistently hear complaints about the low level of service they receive from government agencies. In fact, a recent survey of customers of the federal government showed a dismal 31-percent approval rating in the level of service received over the past year.
The Customer Service Improvement Act holds those agencies responsible for the service they provide to taxpayers, from those contacting the Social Security Office for assistance with their benefits to Americans getting screened at airports by the Transportation Security Administration. By setting clear measurable standards and holding employees and management teams responsible for those standards, the hope is that the approval rating would increase with the implementation of this act.
The Customer Service Improvement Act would focus on improving the level of service offered by federal agencies in the following areas:
- Federal agencies would be required to track customer satisfaction through direct customer transactions and report that information as a part of their annual performance reports.
- The Office of Management and Budget would be responsible for developing standards for customer service that would apply throughout all agencies of the federal government.
- Each federal agency would be required to appoint a customer service specialist who would be responsible for implementing those standards.
- Customer service standards would be included in each employee’s performance appraisal yearly.
- Contact information for each federal agency would be required to be posted on the agency’s website, so customers would have easy access to the agencies they need.
These changes may not seem like major steps, but in an industry where customer service is often overlooked, they could have a large impact on the overall customer experience. With a low service rating currently in place, these simple modifications to the focus of federal employees could reap big benefits for those who have to deal with these government agencies. Perhaps this would be the beginning of something big from Uncle Sam – a customer service model that could be emulated in the private sector as well.
In the meantime, the bill has currently passed the House, but it is still a long way from becoming an official piece of legislation. The next step is a vote in the Senate and then a signature of the President of the United States. If this movement progresses, perhaps Americans would see an improvement in the level of service offered by federal government agencies in the not-so-distant future.