Average Federal CX Ekes Out A New High, Still Trailing The Private Sector

It’s a new White House priority to provide “excellent, equitable, and secure federal services and customer experience.” To help understand the state of the federal CX, Forrester has published a US federal CX Index (CX Index™) report since 2015. This year, in response to the White House’s new focus on equity, we analyzed our results for five demographic categories.

Here’s a preview of our results. For all the details — including CX-related driver and mission performance data — check out our full report: The US Federal Customer Experience Index, 2021.

The 15 US federal agencies and programs that we rated in 2021 earned an average score of 62.6 on our 100-point scale. That’s a gain of 1.5 points from 2020 — the second year of improvement in a row and the highest federal average we’ve ever recorded. What’s more, six organizations improved and two declined. That’s the largest number of federal organizations to improve in a single year.

Unfortunately, US federal CX quality is still weak and uneven. The federal average is 10.7 points behind the private sector average and lower than any other industry or sector we studied. Ten out of 15 federal organizations have scores in the lowest two categories of the CX Index.

Federal CX Quality Varies Widely By Demographic Group

Our CX Index results show wide disparities in US federal CX quality within each category we studied:

  • Race/ethnicity: White customers have the best CX; Pacific Islanders have the worst. The average federal CX Index score for customers who identify as white/Caucasian was 64.0 versus 47.9 for customers who identify as Native Hawaiian or Pacific Islander — a gap of 16.1 points.
  • Gender: Men have somewhat better federal experiences than women. The average CX Index score for customers who identify as male was 64.4; for customers who identify as female, it was 61.1. That’s a statistically significant, although modest, difference of 3.3 points. Starting in 2022, our survey will use a more inclusive gender question, so subsequent reports will provide data for people who identify with marginalized gender identities and expressions.
  • Age: Older customers have better experiences than younger customers. The average federal CX Index score among members of the Silent Generation (those born between 1928 and 1945) was 71.8, while the average score among members of Generation Z (those born 1997 or later) was 54.0. That’s a CX quality difference of 17.8 points — the widest among the five demographic categories we studied.
  • Income: Higher-income customers have better experiences than lower-income ones. The average CX Index score for federal customers with incomes of $100,000 or higher was 69.0, and the average score for customers with incomes under $25,000 was 59.2 — a difference of 9.8 points.
  • Veteran status: Active service members have the best CX, military dependents the worst. The average federal CX Index score for active-duty service members was 69.9, and the average score for non-spousal dependents of active-duty individuals or veterans was 60.9. That’s a spread of 9 points between active-duty service members and all military dependents, and a difference of 4.2 points between veterans and all military dependents.