USAJobs.gov user satisfaction hasn't recovered from last year's nosedive

Customer satisfaction with the federal USAJobs.gov job-search website dramatically plunged following its relaunch last October, and has not fully recovered yet, according to a new survey of users of the site.

The Office of Personnel Management overhauled the USAJobs website six months ago, bringing it in-house to save costs after canceling a longstanding contract. Its initial operation was plagued with technical glitches for several weeks, resulting in thousands of user complaints.

While those complaints eventually dwindled and many of the site's kinks were ironed out, the reduction in customer satisfaction persisted, although it has been slowly climbing back. The most recent score reported by the ForeSee research firm on April 24 shows that satisfaction with USAJobs still falls short of last year’s pre-launch levels.

The ForeSee e-Government Satisfaction Index is released quarterly, based on surveys collected from about 300,000 users of 190 federal websites, with satisfaction index scores ranging from 1 to a high of 100. The average federal website scored 75 in customer satisfaction during the first quarter of 2012.

USAJobs’ score took a sharp drop following the relaunch. From satisfaction scores of 75, 74 and 74, respectively, reported in the first three quarters of 2011, user satisfaction fell to 56 on the index in the final quarter of the year.

USAJobs website’s score still has not fully regained user satisfaction at previous levels. In the first three months of 2012, USAJobs scored 68 out of 100, according to ForeSee’s most recent report.

Matthew Perry, chief information officer for OPM, contended that the USAJobs website has made a strong comeback since its plunge in satisfaction last year. According to figures released by ForeSee, USAJobs satisfaction rose from 56 on the index to 68.

“It has shown dramatic improvement from the last quarter of 2011 to the first quarter of 2012,” Perry said. “This is a success story. Six months ago we revamped a very public, high traffic site and the team has worked hard to deliver solid, steady progress.”

Larry Freed, president of ForeSee, noted that both USAJobs’ drop in the index, and its partial comeback, are somewhat unusual, since satisfaction scores for federal websites tend to stay relatively stable.

“The good news is that it is trending improvement,” Freed said in an interview with Federal Computer Week on April 25.

Websites that are completely overhauled often experience a 2-point to 10-point drop in the index that Freed calls the “relaunch effect.” That occurs because users initially may be put off by the unfamiliar look and feel of the new website, but typically the relaunch effect quickly wears off, he added.

The USAJobs’ drop was much deeper, and more persistent, Freed added.

The 19-point drop in satisfaction last October was “dramatic, and more than you would want to see,” Freed added. “That was not the norm…They jumped on it, and we have seen it continue to move up.”











About the Author

Alice Lipowicz is a staff writer covering government 2.0, homeland security and other IT policies for Federal Computer Week.

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