It’s not new that agencies are inundated with data, but what data should you collect to improve your agency’s programs and enhance the customer experience? The Department of Labor’s Employee Benefit Security Administration’s (EBSA) has been perfecting their process to collect actionable data for the past 14 years.
EBSA is a regulatory agency that develops and enforces private sector employee benefit plans, such as 401Ks, traditional pensions, and health care benefit plans. We invited Terri Thomas from EBSA’s Outreach, Education and Assistance (OEA) Program to share her strategy for collecting actionable data in a DigitalGov University webinar.
GPRA and Customer Satisfaction
In the past, OEA measured such things as timeliness of responses, or amount of money obtained through dispute resolutions, but these distinct data points didn’t provide a full picture of performance, nor did they measure the quality of the services provided.
To solve this problem, the agency decided to establish their customer service satisfaction score as a primary Government Performance Results Act (GPRA) goal for the agency. The GPRA goal helped EBSA move to more qualitative performance measures, particularly for their Benefits Advisors.
EBSA’s Benefits Advisors:
- Help participants understand their rights and obtain benefits to which they’re entitled
- Educate employers and plan officials on legal responsibilities
- Resolve complaints.
EBSA runs an ongoing customer satisfaction survey for their Benefits Advisors program, to measure how well staff interact with the customers who contact them for assistance. The survey explicitly measures several performance attributes, to paint a clear picture of Advisor effectiveness and provide actionable data which they use to make improvements. Over the past 14 years, OEA has improved its customer satisfaction scores by 20 points!
How the Questionnaire Works
- Conducted by telephone (over 90% of inquiries come in by phone)
- Timely delivery (within 2 weeks of closing the inquiry)
- 33 questions (one open-ended)
- 1-5 rating scale
- Survey measures:
- Overall satisfaction
- Customer engagement (proprietary)
- Performance attributes
- Select participants at random
- Timing is key – schedule immediately so respondents remember the interaction
Sample Performance Attributes
- Treats me like a valued customer
- Information is clear/easy to understand
- Does their best to help me out
- Thoroughly answered all of my questions
- Proactive in addressing my question/issue
- Would want to work with the Benefits Advisor again
Data Analysis and Reporting
- Continuous monitoring every two weeks
- Statistical sampling
- Quarterly reporting at agency and office levels
- Reports combine survey data with production data
- Receive end of fiscal year detailed report
- Ongoing support to use survey data to enhance performance
- Individualized training offered to help each person to address specific issues
Tips to Gather Actionable Data
- Accountability—Have a system (such as the GPRA) that holds people accountable for execution and follow-through
- **Collaboration—**Be transparent; share best practices and information across the organization. Ask for and be willing to accept feedback to enhance surveys and other data collection efforts.
- **Training—**Tailor training to meet the needs of individual employees, particularly when addressing survey findings, so you can monitor whether performance on certain activities improves.
- **Refine Over Time—**Use results from prior years to improve the next year’s survey.
- **Be Specific—**Drop all questions that are “nice to have.” Only ask questions that give you actionable data.
Watch the webinar to hear Terri’s full presentation.
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