Agencies test customer satisfaction
- By Graeme Browning
- Feb 24, 2002
In introducing its broad e-government agenda last fall, the Bush administration
said it wants to use technology to better connect with citizens. Now two
federal agencies are testing a software tool that gauges how strong that
connection really is.
NASA and the General Services Administration are conducting pilot studies
on Web sites they operate by adding a customer satisfaction survey based
on the American Customer Satisfaction Index (www.theacsi.org).
The ASCI index developed by a partnership of the University of Michigan
Business School, the American Society for Quality, and CFI Group, an international
consulting firm measures the degree to which visitors to Web sites perceive
them to be useful and effective.
Although the methodology behind the ACSI has been around since the 1980s,
ForeSee Results the Ann Arbor, Mich.-based company providing the software
to NASA and GSA's FirstGov portal only began marketing the product in
January, according to Larry Freed, the company's president and chief executive
First published in 1994, the ACSI focused primarily on the private sector
until 1999, when it was expanded to include 30 "high impact" federal agencies.
"We're really just applying a technology that the government has already
embraced and taking it from a more general use down to a more tactical approach
to Web sites," Freed said.
The surveys operate either via pop-up windows that open at random for
a certain percentage of Web site visitors, or via links that any visitor
can choose to click. NASA, which uses the pop-up method,
asks survey respondents to identify themselves as members of broad social
categories, while the FirstGov "Customer Satisfaction
Survey" doesn't ask for such identification.
The "NASA Home Page Survey" offers respondents a list of possible additions
to the Web site and asks them to choose which one they like best. So far
the NASA Web audience, which consists primarily of students, teachers and
the general public, has voted by a 3-1 margin for Webcasts of NASA-TV, the
agency's broadcasts of such events as space launches and life aboard the
International Space Station, said Brian Dunbar, the Internet services manager
in NASA's public affairs office.
"What we're doing in this pilot is following up on the president's charge
to provide people with the information they want when they want it, instead
of just providing the information we think should go on a Web page," Dunbar
A notice requesting comment on the use of the surveys, required under
Office of Management and Budget regulations, was posted in the Federal Register