SSA websites big winners in user satisfaction survey

As agencies move to online and mobile platforms and away from more costly call centers, a satisfactory user experience increases citizen reliance on digital channels and trust in the agency.

Thirty-one percent of federal government sites provide an excellent government experience for citizens, according to the ForeSee E-Government Satisfaction Index.

ForeSee, a customer experience analytics provider, gathered 220,000 survey responses across 100 federal government websites, as well as mobile sites and applications. The index, which quarterly measures citizen satisfaction with e-government, is now in its 12th year.

On a 100-point scale, average citizen satisfaction was slightly up in Q4 (75.1 points) from 75 in Q3. Scores 80 and above are ranked as having highly satisfied visitors. Below 70, sites are rated as having highly dissatisfied visitors. Interestingly, average citizen satisfaction with e-government substantially outscored citizen satisfaction with overall government (64.4, according to the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) Federal Government Report 2014).

The Social Security Administration’s Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs site was the top performer (90) and outscored some of the top private sector sites such as Amazon (83), L.L. Bean (82) and Apple (80), according to the Answers Experience Index (AXI): 2014 U.S. Retail Edition. Only 31 sites achieved an excellent rating. The lowest ranked site was the Department of Veterans Affairs’ main website – va.gov  (56).

The most improved site was the Internal Revenue Service’s main site, IRS.gov, which achieved a citizen satisfaction score of 72 in Q4 – a 15 point increase from Q3. The most likely driver, according to ForeSee, was Direct Pay, which allows citizens to pay taxes directly from a checking or savings account at no additional cost.

On the downside, mobile and app site satisfaction decreased. Aggregate satisfaction was 77 in Q4, down from 78 in Q3.

“In order to help improve the citizen experience on mobile websites and applications, government agencies need to prioritize several areas of focus regarding their mobile offerings,” said Dave Lewan, vice president of ForeSee. The top priority should be navigation, followed by look and feel of site information, he said.

Of the top ranked sites, five of the top 10 were from SSA. The top 10 sites, from highest to lowest score:

  1. SSA’s Extra Help with Medicare Prescription Drug Plan Costs (90)
  2. SSA Retirement Estimator (89)
  3. National Institutes of Health Senior Health (88)
  4. SSA’s Social Security Business Services Online (88)
  5. my Social Security (88)
  6. SSA iClaim (88)
  7. Health and Human Services MedlinePlus (87)
  8. HHS MedlinePlus en español (87)
  9. U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Español (87)
  10. American Battle Monuments Commission (85)

Twenty-one percent of sites were rated 69 or below. The bottom ten sites, from worst to better:

  1. VA main website (56 points)
  2. Labor Department’s Disability.gov (56)
  3. Federal Motor Carrier Safety Administration main website (57)
  4. TreasuryDirect (60)
  5. HHS’s Grants.gov (60)
  6. Defense Department’s healthcare program TRICARE (61)
  7. Bureau of Justice Statistics (63)
  8. Treasury main website (64)
  9. Forest Service main website  (64)
  10. Federal Railroad Administration main website (65)

ForeSee further divided site rankings according to top gainers and site function: transactional; news and information; main sites/portals; and career and recruitment.

The top gainers were:

The top five transactional websites were all from SSA:

The top federal news and information websites were held by HHS:

DHS’s U.S. Citizenship and Immigration Services Español was the highest ranked federal portal/department main website with 87 points, followed by four HHS sites: National Institute of Arthritis and Musculoskeletal and Skin Diseases public website (84); Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) main website (83); National Cancer Institute main website (82) and the National Library of Medicine Genetics Home Reference website (82).

The top three career and recruitment sites were from the CIA (84); State Department (79) and the Office of Personnel Management (74)

“Why does satisfaction matter? If agencies can deliver a satisfactory experience, the likelihood of desired outcomes is increased,” said Lewan. “For example, for this quarter’s index, highly satisfied website visitors were 83 percent more likely to use the website as a primary resource (versus a more costly channel like the contact center) and 80 percent were more likely to put their trust behind the agency. “

“For mobile, those who were highly satisfied with their experience were 85 percent more likely to return to the site or app and a whopping 118 percent more likely to recommend the site or app!” he added.

What’s driving satisfaction is navigation, search, functionality and online transparency, said Lewan. “It’s important to note that online transparency (providing thorough, easy-to-find information on a site) has been proven to be a driver of increased trust in the agency,” he added.

The lowest score since ForeSee began its survey was in Q4 2003 with an average of 69 points.

This article was changed on Feb 20 to remove myhealth.va.gov from the low scores as only the VA main website was rated.

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