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To Provide Better Customer Service, Ask for Feedback

By Washington (DC) Mayor Vincent C. Gray
May 13, 2013


Last summer, the District of Columbia partnered with a local analytics firm to do something that hotels and restaurants have been doing for years: track social media feedback.

The initiative, Grade.DC.gov, harvests residentsí feedback posted to sites like Twitter and Facebook and uses it to assign a grade to participating agencies. Residents can go online to the namesake website and see how each agency is performing on a monthly basis. Overall grades have climbed steadily since the start of the program as agencies compete with each other to obtain high marks in customer service.

Sometimes feedback is hard to hear, but the reality is that residents have a lot to say about services provided by District agencies. Residents have reviewed agencies over 9,000 times since the program started. Through Grade.DC.gov we found a way to embrace feedback instead of being adverse to it. One of the programís core tenets is that agencies should actively ask for feedback Ė whether it is positive or negative. The more feedback we are receiving as a government, the better we can make management decisions and allocate resources to provide the best possible service delivery to our customers Ė District residents and visitors.

The program both makes it easier for residents to provide feedback and captures feedback that was previously unmeasured. Prior to the summer of 2012, District government officials had no organized fashion to keep track of what residents were saying on social media. But now, we can. Through the systemís analytic portal, managers can see in near real-time how their agency is viewed on social media and break down by service location how residents feel about the service they were provided by the government. With 15 currently participating agencies, the District can at any time assess how residents are interacting with their city government Ė providing a broader picture of service delivery than traditional media can.

Grade.DC.gov is leading to real change. The District Department of Transportation (DDOT) has aligned their customer service program to Grade.DC.gov. DDOT employees are now partially measured by the feedback received through the program and they are rewarded when they are positively mentioned in social media platforms. This has led from DDOT receiving a C-minus grade last June to an A-plus grade this March. The Department of Consumer and Regulatory Affairs (DCRA) has also gotten behind the program. Early feedback through Grade.DC.gov mentioned how many employees only knew the exact function of their position and could not assist customers when their colleagues were out of the office. DCRA improved their grade by cross-training all frontline employees.

Through advanced analytics and asking for feedback, the District Government is continuously holding ourselves accountable and finding out if we are making the grade. Learn more about the program at www.grade.dc.gov.