How US state governments can improve customer service

New report by the McKinsey Center for Government:”Technological advances such as smartphones and apps have opened new frontiers of convenience, speed, and transparency for private-sector customers. At the same time, tightening government budgets are making it difficult for the public sector to deliver services of a similarly high quality. With consumer expectations only increasing, it’s perhaps no surprise that interactions with government agencies frustrate and disappoint many citizens. Yet when we sought to find out exactly why, we discovered cause for encouragement: issues that frustrate citizens are solvable, and the frustrations mostly revolve around the way services are provided rather than the services themselves. In fact, we believe governments can significantly improve the service experience while lowering costs and increasing employee engagement and satisfaction.
During the past year, we measured the satisfaction of citizens by surveying approximately 17,000 people across 15 US states. …We found that the satisfaction of citizens with state services varied considerably, ranging from 22 for the highest-performing state to –36 for the lowest. Overall, the CSS was positive for eight states and negative for seven. Several common themes emerged:

  • Speed, simplicity, and efficiency make citizens happier. Participants expressed stronger negative feelings about specific attributes of service delivery than about state services overall. They were dissatisfied with the slowness of service delivery, its complexity, and the effort required to navigate through processes.
  • Satisfaction is often lower for more essential services. Public housing, food stamps, unemployment benefits, and other more essential services received lower satisfaction scores than more discretionary services (such as state parks or cultural facilities) did. This stood out in part because, among all respondents, the average CSS across the 15 states was positive for most services surveyed.
  • People who don’t use a service are often more skeptical about its quality. There’s a perception gap between users and nonusers of state services. The CSS for citizens who used a state service within the past 12 months was, on average, 12 percentage points higher than the score for participants who hadn’t done so but still considered themselves informed about its quality. This perception gap was smallest for public safety (1 percent) and largest for public housing (52 percent), followed by Medicaid (46 percent) and food stamps (45 percent).
  • Citizens are less satisfied with government services than with private-sector services. Government services fared more poorly than private-sector services, with some notable exceptions: state parks, cultural facilities, sporting licenses, public safety, and environmental protection. In fact, the CSS for private-sector services was 2.5 times higher than the score for government ones. The more favorable views about well-regarded service providers, such as e-commerce sites, may not be surprising. However, the fact that citizens were less satisfied with many government services than with cable- or satellite-TV services should concern government leaders.
  • Most citizens prefer to interact with government online. In response to follow-up questions, recent users of services from the department of motor vehicles (DMV) in their states said that the ability to complete processes online was their top priority. The availability of more and clearer information online ranked third. The most satisfied DMV users had no up-front interactions with staff, and satisfaction decreased as citizens interacted with more channels, including call centers and walk-in centers….

See :McKinsey Center for Government report Putting Citizens First: How to improve citizens’ experience and satisfaction with government services.”