The Act would add support and permanence to President Obama's Executive Order on customer service. What I like most is that it calls for agencies to credit and reward employees for great customer service. Bingo! The Act legitimizes “customer service” as an organizational value; and it recognizes that great customer service depends on government employees who know their customers, care about what they want and need, and go the extra mile to make sure they get it.
So let me back up and summarize the Customer Service Act for you. It requires:
- The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to establish performance measures and standards to make sure government is providing high-quality customer service;
- Agency heads to measure customer satisfaction through "surveys, focus groups, or other appropriate methods” (like usability testing, I hope!);
- Agencies to report customer service data annually and OMB to issue a report;
- Agency heads to designate a Customer Relations Representative; and
- Agencies to publish customer service contact information. Great customer service includes providing help to customers who get stuck, don’t understand, or just need extra support.
- Agency heads may pay cash awards to employees who demonstrate excellence in customer service; and
- “Compliance with customer service standards developed under this Act shall, to the extent practicable, be an element of a performance appraisal system.”
This Act has a long way to go. But it’s off to a good start. It sends an important message: citizens want and deserve great customer service from their government, and government needs to value those employees who deliver.
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