A r c h i v e d I n f o r m a t i o n
FY 1999 Annual Plan - Volume 1. Objective Performance Plans and Data Quality - February 27, 1998
Objective 4.1. Our customers receive fast, seamless service and dissemination of high-quality information and products.
Context: To accomplish its mission of ensuring equal access to information and promoting educational excellence throughout the Nation, the Department must support the efforts of States, postsecondary institutions, school districts, schools boards, schools, community and business organizations, principals, teachers, parents, and students. All of these customers look to the Department for fast, accurate information and assistance to meet their various education needs.
Key strategies for FY 1999
- Establish and use customer service standards to drive performance.
- Develop a detailed plan to ensure that the Department's employees and managers are aware of, and strive to exceed, customer service standards for core products and services.
- Ensure that contracts reflect the Department's customer service standards, as appropriate.
- Improve ease of access for customers.
- Establish a one-stop shop for publications, "One-Pubs," to disseminate ED information products, including such items as publications and grant applications, and to also operate as a customer call center. In FY 1999, $6.4 million is requested to continue implementation of this center, which will be evaluated periodically.
- Implement the "one right referral" customer service standard for telephone inquiries through enhancement of information tools and employee training.
- Use customer feedback and other tools and information to improve the quality and timeliness of service provided at our largest volume toll free numbers: the 1-800-USA LEARN, 1-800-4FED-AID, and the National Library of Education, 1-800-424-1616, and other significant 800 centers.
- Improve the ease of access, quality, usefulness, and timeliness of information provided by the Department's award-winning web page. The 1999 budget request includes $150,000 for this activity for improvements which will make new information available to customers sooner.
- Ensure access to customers with disabilities.
- Continue to implement Section 504 modifications, funded at nearly $600,000 in 1999, to produce ED documents (e.g., grant applications, financial aid applications, and contracts) in alternative formats (e.g., braille and audiotape); provide employee training on Section 504 requirements; provide assistive technology for both ED staff and external customers; and make other accommodations.
- Coordinate with the Government Printing Office and other agencies to plan for products and services in alternative formats at the development stage.
- Increase customer awareness and use of ED products and services.
- Establish a more proactive approach to increasing awareness by networking and building partnerships with other agencies and organizations.
- Conduct research of best practices in information dissemination with the private and public sectors to identify potential models to adopt and customize for use at the Department.
- Continue to publish cutting-edge research-based materials to meet customer needs as demonstrated by demand and through national recognition awards. The Department plans to spend $500,000 under the Office of Educational Research and Improvement's authority to perform these efforts.
- Develop customer feedback systems to increase understanding of customer needs.
- Develop a strategic, reliable, integrated, and objective customer response plan to capture and use customer feedback on products and services.
- Build the capacity to better disseminate the results and actions taken in response to customer feedback.
- Federal Publisher's Committee. Work continues with the Federal Publisher's Committee, a cross-agency group, and the Office of Educational Research and Improvement (OERI) to discuss issues of common interest (e.g., effective marketing, uses of desktop publishing, Government Printing Office services).
- Government Printing Office's (GPO) Depository Library System. Continue work with this library system to ensure all documents printed by GPO are deposited, putting ED documents in the public domain for use by all taxpayers and citizens.
- General Services Administration's Consumer Information Center (CIC). Currently working with the CIC to develop, promote, and distribute information to the public.
Selected performance indicators and charts
One of the most important aspects of this objective and the initiatives outlined is the need for customer service to be integrated not only into our most popular and used services, but throughout the Department. In order for the Department to incorporate concepts and best practices related to customer focus into daily operations, we are developing cross-cutting approaches for meeting this objective. The indicators in this objective seek to track performance on meeting the Department's customer service standards and in providing quality products and services to the public that are timely and accessible.
Department employees and front-line service centers will meet or exceed the Department's customer service standards by 2000. (Goal 4, indicator 2)
Indicator background and context. The 1996 employee survey showed that 63.2% of employees agreed that their organizations were meeting customer needs, a 37.4% improvement from the 1993 survey. To ED's credit, some of our highest volume toll-free numbers, like 1- 800-4-FED-AID, have been a model for providing a consistent level of reliable, high-quality telephone service to ED customers each day. Plans being developed for the next year will be structured to increase customer service at all levels of the organization.
Data source. Information Resource Center (IRC), Student Financial Aid System (1-800-4-FED-AID), National Library of Education (NLE) data systems.
By 2001, at least 90% of customers, internal and external, will agree that ED products, services, and information, including those on the Department's web site, are of high quality, timely, and accessible. (Goal 4, indicator 1)
Indicator background and context. While a more strategic approach is needed for assessing customer satisfaction with all ED products and services, there are pockets of qualitative measures available. For instance, in the January 1997 ED Internet online customer survey, 87% of respondents were satisfied or very satisfied with the ED Online Library and EDInfo. The best measures currently in place are for volume. For example, the number of customers calling ED's main information line, 1-800- USA-LEARN, has increased over 55% since 1995. That center received over 277,000 calls last year. Our student financial aid number, 1-800-4FED-AID, received over 1.3 million calls last year. The number of people accessing the ED web site increased a significant 480% since 1994.
Data source. Information Resource Center data systems; National Library of Education data systems.
Verification/validation of performance measures: Many Department's call centers measure progress in meeting customer service standards, including call waiting time. The planned "one-pubs" operation will yield information about response time and comment cards will collect customer service data. Independent customer surveys conducted by the Department's Planning and Evaluation Service will validate customer information.