Customer Service Improvement Act Passed by Government

Posted by

As taxpayers, the US citizen is technically a customer of their government. However, if you have had to do much business with government agencies, you probably realize that the customer service received is often lousy and would rate low in comparison to other companies. That all seems to be in the process of changing it would seem.


On September 11th, the House of Representatives approved the Government Customer Service Improvement Act. The bill (HR 538) was sponsored in 2011 by Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who is quoted in an article by Richard Simon of the Los Angeles Times as saying, “When taxpayers interact with a government agency, they deserve the same timely, reliable assistance they would expect from a private sector business.’’ In one speech, Cuellar gives two examples of the poor service offered in saying, “Too often we hear that veterans are waiting for months to get critical medical services, or that seniors are waiting for months to get their benefits…their retirement benefits.” He continues and states that this is “why we must usher in a new chapter to accelerate response time and overall performance for a better customer experience.”


Sen. Warner echoes the same sentiment when stating, “As any business school graduate can tell you, ‘what gets measured gets done.’ I believe citizens should expect federal agencies to deliver customer service at least as well as the private sector does and, unfortunately, too often that is not the case.” Unlike a normal business, it is not like the government really has to win your support or loyalty, they have it whether you like it or not. So the issue of providing great service has never really been considered an issue. Sen. Johnson explains it this way, “Companies that have to succeed in the free market have an incentive to constantly improve customer service. Bad customer service means reduced profits and the risk of failure. Government agencies simply don’t have to respond to competition the way private companies do.”


The bill would require the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to create customer service performance standards for all federal agencies, and to include the compliance of those standards into Federal employee performance appraisals.


Customer Service speaker Shep Hyken says that “About four months ago I posted a comment to an article about TSA and Government services: ‘The government is the largest employer in the US. Shouldn’t they be held to a standard of customer service that other companies and organizations deliver? This won’t be easy, given their track record and habits. Want a role model? Take a look at the Singapore government. They get it. Their customers (citizens) rate them very high.’” He later states, “In my usual optimistic way, I’m hoping they are serious about raising the bar on how the citizens are treated.”


When dealing with federal agencies, what used to take months may soon be shortened to a more reasonable timeframe. Maybe now, people will be looked at as more than just a number, which is the feeling so many seem to get when dealing with government offices. 


Image courtesy of


Become a member to take advantage of more features, like commenting and voting.

  • Jeffrey McCormack
    Jeffrey McCormack
    Wow Myrla, that does sound bad. I am not sure it is that bad in the continental US, but there may be similar horror stories some have experienced.
  • Myrla San Filippo
    Myrla San Filippo
    I live in PR and the customer service here is hair raising , both in the local  and federal government . The  Social Security Office , Unemployment , Medicaid and  IRS are some of the worse offenders. They tell you to arrive at  5:00 AM and put your name on a list to be given a number out of only 75 given daily, You are expected to remain standing there until they open the office . The employees are rude and the waiting time is ten times what it takes in the same agency in the continental US . Its the Federal Government gone Native.
  • Jeffrey McCormack
    Jeffrey McCormack
    It is nice that someone is pushing to make the government a bit more people friendly. Thanks for the comments everyone.
  • Larry M
    Larry M
            If you want the Goverment to be liked, the need for expedience is very important. I have always had the feeling I am a burden for the people I talk to in the government. You know a kind word and upbeat attitude can go a long way to make Government much more liked. If you overwork your people they are not going to perform as adequately. This is the best and still the richest Country in the world. If you want people to respect them, get things working faster. I am trying to get disability. The process takes so long. In the mean time I can barely survive. This is happening all over this country. To top it off we have to fight the congress. Obama is a shining example of someone who cares.              
  • Donald M
    Donald M
    I am all about customer service and would like to know more.  I think it is a good idea.
  • Oscar Z
    Oscar Z
    Federal employee performance appraisals good idea. Implement the basics. Small companies always fight to move up. It's when a company gets big that the attitude starts to change. Control is never the answer. The answer is in the attitude of service to each other at every level! So I concur with employee performance appraisals.
  • Deborah P
    Deborah P
    I wonder about what this new law actually says.  Often the title of a law doesn't exactly match what is written in the fine print, just so the legislators will pass it, with strongly persuasive words.  I haven't had a problem with good "customer service" from the government yet.  So I wonder if this newly passed law is more about changing the entire face and purpose of the government.

Jobs to Watch