Though the White House is buckling down on federal agencies' poor customer experience (CX), efforts have not yet paid off. According to Forrester's US 2018 Customer Experience Index (CX Index), government is one of the lowest ranked industries. Its below-par CX ranking is largely due to the government's poor digital experiences and failure to perform well at the critical elements that matter the most to CX, such as processes, customer service and showing respect to customers. This article is copyright 2018 The Best Customer Guide.

Based on a survey of more than 110,000 US online adult consumers, Forrester's CX Index measures and ranks nearly 300 US brands across 19 industries to identify how well a brand's customer experience strengthens the loyalty of its customers. Of the 287 US brands ranked in 2018, 15 federal agencies and programs were analyzed to determine how they stack up against the private sector and how well they perform on key drivers of CX.

Findings include that:

  • Federal CX has not improved year-over-year: The average 2018 CX Index score for government is 59/100, which is unchanged from 2017 - and worse than almost every private sector industry ranked. Only two agencies rose in the rankings; but 80% continue to live in the poor or very poor CX categories.
  • Despite government focus on digital, efforts are falling short: Adding to its low ranking, digital government channels perform poorly compared to physical channels like brick-and-mortar locations or call centers. For example, federal customers using digital-only channels rated their experiences an average five points lower than those only using physical channels.
  • Bad CX leads to mission failure: CX quality - or lack thereof - causes customer behaviors to shift away from the missions federal agencies aim to accomplish. Poor experiences have led to customers being unwilling to comply with federal directives, apply for optional services, and even speak well of, trust or forgive agencies for their mistakes.

"Customer experience is directly linked to mission performance, but government is failing on the most critical elements that provide strong experiences," Forrester Chief Research and Product Officer Cliff Condon said. "For example, only 46% of federal agencies' customers feel respected, and 55% find processes of obtaining benefits, services or information are too difficult. To improve the experiences it provides, government must first understand which key drivers matter most to high quality customer experience, and then focus on fixing those elements first to contribute to the overall mission of serving customers."

The CX Index can be found online at http://forr.com/cxindex