Loyalty to US federal e-government initiatives is very strong, with users of online government services being highly likely to re-use such web sites and to recommend them to others, according to the new e-government version of the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI).
The latest index shows a significant increase in improvement of the quality of e-government initiatives. However, it continues to show a wide disparity among agencies and types of web sites in terms of delivering overall user satisfaction. The analysis shows a large increase in satisfaction over the past nine months and a continuing citizen commitment to e-government web sites, which exhibited strong scores for citizen satisfaction, likelihood to return, likelihood to recommend the site to others, and likelihood to conduct business through the online channel.
"We see mixed results in terms of how successful agencies are but one common theme - channel loyalty - is generally quite strong," said Larry Freed, CEO for ForeSee Results, which sponsors the ACSI's e-commerce, e-business and e-government indices.
"This loyalty factor will fuel the growth of e-government. Online satisfaction is all about understanding what people want a site to do, and then doing it. Government is increasingly sophisticated about this, and satisfaction produces channel loyalty," said Freed. "The high return and recommend numbers mean this is a make or break opportunity for e-government to become a preferred channel and grow."
More and more agencies are adopting customer satisfaction as a key performance metric to help them find out what people really want e-government to do for them. By targeting specific needs with more convenience and consistency than other channels, e-government web sites can create loyalty and encourage word of mouth recommendations; both are factors in the ultimate success of such applications.
During the past nine months, the government agencies examined by the index improved their satisfaction scores by an average of 5.4%, which out-performs the improvement for the overall US economy (which gained only 0.8% during the same period). In a comparable period, commercial e-business satisfaction increased by an average of 3.9%.
Momentum must continue
"This is great news for government agencies, because the online channel delivers convenience and saves taxpayer dollars," concluded Freed. "But this is a hyper-evolution: To keep and build loyalty, agencies are going to have to do more and more online; transactional services in particular. Any failure to deliver will deflate the gains e-government has been making."
The e-government index is reported quarterly, based on the ACSI which is produced by the University of Michigan in partnership with the American Society for Quality and CFI Group. ForeSee Results is a data collection and analysis partner.