Satisfaction with Gov Web sites remains strong

Administration's Open Government Initiative spurs increase in satisfaction, ForeSee Report says

Satisfaction with government Web sites reached an all-time high last year and remains strong this quarter, according to ForeSee Results, a company that specializes in online customer satisfaction measurement.

ForeSee Results applies the methodology of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) to help organizations better understand how improvements to specific aspects of the online experience such as navigation or site performance positively affect overall satisfaction.

The ACSI E-Government Satisfaction Index registered a 75.1 on a 100-point scale in the first quarter of 2010, 1.5 points higher than Q1 2009 and just shy of the highest level of people's satisfaction with online government (75.2), set in the third quarter of 2009, according to ForeSee Results.

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The Obama Administration’s Open Government Directive has resulted in a significant increase in satisfaction that has been successfully maintained over the last three quarters, said Larry Freed, chief executive officer of ForeSee Results.

“The administration’s focus on technology, open government and transparency is helping agencies get more focused on their Web properties,” Freed said.

ForeSee Results surveyed more than 250,000 visitors to 106 federal Web sites in the first quarter of 2010. The full study reports individual scores for each of the 106 Web sites on the ACSI’s 100-point scale.

Twenty-nine of the 106 measured e-gov sites — 27 percent of the sites in the Index — in this quarter are in the "top performers" category with average satisfaction scores of 80 or higher, generally considered the threshold of excellence on the ACSI’s 100-point scale.

The Social Security Administration’s Retirement Estimator and iClaim remain in the top spots, each with a score of 90. The SSA’s Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs website (87) and Health and Human Service’s MedlinePlus, each with a score of 87 round out the top four.

High citizen satisfaction with federal Web sites is a key driver of desired future behaviors, saving taxpayers money and improving the government’s relationship with its citizens, the ForeSee report states. When compared to less satisfied site visitors (below 70), highly satisfied Web-site visitors (80 and higher) are:

  • 52 percent more likely to return to a federal government Web site.
  • 79 percent more likely to recommend the Web site.
  • 54 percent more likely to trust the government agency.
  • 80 percent more likely to use the Web site as their primary resource instead of using more costly channels like call centers.
  • 50 percent more likely to participate in government by expressing their thoughts.

According to the report, federal Web sites achieved the most improvement in Web-site satisfaction by improving search functionality and perceptions of agency or department transparency. Transparency was recently added as a measured element contributing to satisfaction, joining search, navigation, functionality, look and feel, content, site performance, privacy and transactions.

"The more we focus on customer satisfaction, the better our government Web sites become,” said Ron Oberbillig, chief operating officer of the Federal Consulting Group.

“I expect to see as many as 30 percent of government Web sites achieving an ACSI score of 80 or higher in the near future," he said.

The Federal Consulting Group operates as a pay-for-service franchise within the Department of Interior’s National Business Center and serves as the executive agent in the government for the American Customer Satisfaction Index. Agencies can assess and improve programs, call centers and Web sites using the ACSI methodology through an Interagency Agreement with the Federal Consulting Group.

About the Author

Rutrell Yasin is is a freelance technology writer for GCN.

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