Web satisfaction scores rising

Citizens are increasingly willing to recommend e-government and more likely to return to government Web sites than they were last year, according to new survey results released today.

Each of the 53 federal sites represented in the American Customer Satisfaction Index E-Government Report showed growth in these customer loyalty factors.

The report is based on a quarterly performance survey conducted by the American Society for Quality in conjunction with the University of Michigan, CFI Group and ForeSee Results of Ann Arbor, Mich. Participation by government agencies is voluntary.

Though channel loyalty was high across the board, the more general customer satisfaction scores varied widely on ACSI’s 100-point scale.

The main Web site for the National Library of Medicine achieved the highest score of 85. The National Ocean Service Mapfinder Web site showed the lowest score of 48.

Consistent with the overall satisfaction level from last quarter, the aggregate ACSI score for participating agencies was 70.3, just 4.1 points lower than ACSI’s latest average satisfaction measurement for various industries in the private sector.

Sites measured in the report were divided into four categories, each with a separate aggregate score:

  • E-commerce/Transactions at 68.8 points

  • Information/News at 70 points

  • Recruitment/Careers at 75.8 points

  • Portal/Department Main Sites at 69.8 points.

The low rating of E-commerce/Transaction sites indicates an important need for growth in this area, especially in comparison to the aggregate ACSI score of 80.8 for E-commerce in the private sector.

“To keep and build loyalty, agencies are going to have to do more and more online. In particular, we’re going to see expectations for transactional services. Failure to deliver will deflate the gains e-government has been making,” said Larry Freed, corporate executive officer of ForeSee.

Federal information and news sites are much more competitive with their counterparts in the private sector, according to the ACSI survey. The 70 average score lags behind msnbc.com by 4 points, but only trails cnn.com by 2 points. Government health sites achieved the highest ratings in this category, demonstrating how government can provide valuable information to citizens at a reduced cost.

With the highest aggregate satisfaction score of 75.8 points, recruitment and career sites are making efforts to ensure the federal government continues to employ high quality talent, despite direct competition with sites like Monster.com and Careerbuilder.com.

“The recruiting sites are working hard to get things right, and succeeding,” Freed said. “CIA and State Department recruitment sites, both with scores of 79, are still at the top of the pack with satisfaction levels many in the private sector would envy.”

In the category of portal and department main sites, the aggregate e-government rating of 69.8 nearly equaled the private sector score of 70. The Department of Transportation’s main Web site leads this category in quarterly growth, showing an increase of 3 points in the last three month. “Transportation has gotten out of the muck and onto the right track by stepping back and determining who wants what from them as opposed to just posting a bunch of information,” said Freed.

Targeting key users and understanding what customers are looking for in a site is key to producing channel loyalty, according to Freed.

“This loyalty factor will fuel the growth of e-government,” he said. “The high return and recommend numbers mean this is a make-or-break opportunity for e-government to become a preferred channel and grow—or fail to stay ahead of expectations and whither.”

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