If you’re angry with the Social Security clerk you dealt with, or happy with the airport security screener who rifled through your bags, you can now tap a button on a kiosk and let the government know.
Federal agencies are now getting your feedback on how well they served you in seconds through a year-long pilot program designed to help them quickly address customer service complaints and other issues.
“We’ve learned that the best place to start when diagnosing a citizen problem is data,” said Victoria McFadden, deputy chief customer officer with the General Services Administration’s Office of Customer Experience, which rolled out the Feedback USA program in late July.
“This is the first time we’ve had a real-time effort to measure customer service,” McFadden said. “We want to see if there’s something agencies will react to if it’s real- time data.”
The silver kiosks now stand at 27 passport offices around the country and 14 Social Security offices. In the next few weeks, passengers at Reagan National, LaGuardia, Los Angeles International and San Francisco International airports will see them as they leave the Transportation Security Administration checkpoints. The Department of Veterans Affairs also plans to launch kiosks soon.
The system for customers is pretty simple, even if the technology isn’t. You click on one of four emoji buttons: a happy face, a somewhat happy face, an angry face or a somewhat angry one. And someone in the agencies’ customer service offices will be watching for the data to stream in seconds through a computer. The responses, all anonymous, will be summarized every hour.
The kiosks are a step in the government’s effort to use technology, and social media in particular, to improve its services to taxpayers and hear about their experiences. We reported Tuesday that agencies are now set up to get customer ratings on Yelp, the Web service that’s best known for restaurant reviews.
In the past, taxpayers had to rely on after-the-fact surveys to rate their experience with a government service. Or they could file complaints themselves, a process that’s often an exercise in bureaucratic agony.
Eventually, GSA plans to roll out a similar feedback program for taxpayers who interact with agencies online and through call centers, said Anahita Reilly, customer advocate with GSA’s Office of Customer Experience.
Since the passport kiosks went live, the State Department has received about 1,500 responses from customers who tapped the kiosk buttons. McFadden said the results were “surprisingly positive,” but she acknowledged that it’s still too early to identify meaningful trends.