Earns High Marks in American
The University of Michigan announced today
that the Social Security Administration (SSA) received an 82 in
the most recent American Customer Satisfaction Index Survey (ACSI).
This score is one of the highest earned by participating Federal
government agencies and 10 points higher than the comparable private
The survey focused on SSA customers who are
receiving retirement benefits, the agency's largest customer base
serving 27.6 million beneficiaries. According to survey results,
Social Security customers rated SSA personnel as courteous and professional,
giving SSA an 86 for both Customer Service and Perceived Quality.
Survey respondents gave SSA a 94 for Monthly Benefits citing the
timeliness in which SSA sends benefit payments. According to ACSI,
this score is a remarkable achievement for SSA as few ACSI scores
reach the high 80s, much less the 90s.
"These scores reflect the hard work and dedication
of Social Security Administration employees who put customer service
first every day," said Kenneth S. Apfel, Commissioner of Social
Security. "We will use this survey to build on the work we do well
and improve the areas where our customers say we can do a better
While SSA scored an 86 for Customer Service,
some customers would like SSA to make its employees even more accessible
and easier to reach than they are today. In addition, beneficiaries
felt that the information provided by SSA sometimes could be clearer
and more relevant. "We are listening to what our customers are telling
us and we have begun several initiatives to improve in these areas,"
commented Commissioner Apfel.
Since Vice President Gore launched his reinvention
initiatives, SSA has worked diligently to improve the quality of
its customer service. The agency's goal is to make doing business
with the Social Security Administration an easy, pleasant experience
for the over 100 million people who visit its offices or call the
800-number each year.
SSA has expanded 800-number offerings by
adding features such as: multiple automated options for convenience
and faster access to agency services; direct links to bilingual
agents for non-English speaking customers; "next available agent"
call routing for faster, more efficient access; and "immediate claims
taking" for filing retirement and survivors claims over the phone.
Plain language has become the standard for
recent SSA publications such as the Social Security Statement and
the annual Cost-of-Living Adjustment notice which have been streamlined
and reworked to make the information easier to read and more understandable
to those who receive them. SSA employees have been trained to write
all communications with the public in a reader-friendly format.
The American Customer Satisfaction Index
(ACSI) is the only uniform, cross-industry measure of the quality
of goods and services available in the United States. The ACSI is
a trend measure and a benchmark for companies, industries and economic
sectors of the household consumer economy. It is predictive of both
companies' financial returns and national economic performance.
The ACSI is produced through a partnership among the University
of Michigan Business School, the American Society for Quality (ASQ)
and Arthur Andersen and funded in part by annual fees paid by companies
that receive detailed information on their own industries.
"At the Social Security Administration we
believe that in order to truly serve our customers well, we must
ask them how they want service delivered and encourage them to tell
us how well we serve them today," stated Commissioner Apfel. "This
survey is an important evaluation tool for our agency. Next year,
the Social Security Administration plans to expand the survey to
include disability and survivors beneficiaries."
NOTE TO CORRESPONDENTS: A fact sheet
showing specifics regarding the ratings is available by clicking
Copies of most SSA press releases, as well as other Social Security
information and statistics,
are available at SSAs Internet site, Social Security
Online, at http://www.socialsecurity.gov.
Also look there for information on subscribing to SSAs
free electronic newsletter, Social Security eNews.
SSA Press Office 449
Altmeyer Bldg. 6401 Security Blvd. Baltimore, MD 21235
410-965-8904 FAX 410-966-9973