Survey Manual

500.15 - Customer Service Policy

This policy serves as a reminder to all USGS employees of the importance of interacting proactively with customers, identifying their needs, and integrating these needs into USGS program planning and implementation.


OPR - Director's Office

1. Purpose and Scope. This chapter establishes a bureau-level policy for customer service. The USGS Customer Service Policy reaffirms USGS commitment to serving its customers with excellence, and is consistent with long-term goals set out in or by the USGS strategic plan. It reiterates USGS responsibility to work with its customers to improve the practical value of the information, services, and products that it provides, as well as the delivery mechanisms used to distribute them. This policy serves as a reminder to all USGS employees of the importance of interacting proactively with customers, identifying their needs, and integrating these needs into USGS program planning and implementation. The policy also establishes a framework for complying with the authorities described in paragraph 2.

2. Authority. The USGS Customer Service Policy is established in compliance with Executive Order (EO) 12862, “Setting Customer Service Standards” and associated Presidential memoranda. The EO and memoranda mandate that Federal agencies:

A. Identify the customers who are, or should be, served by the agency.

B. Survey customers to determine the kind and quality of services they want and their level of satisfaction with existing services.

C. Post service standards and measure results against them.

D. Benchmark customer service performance against the best in business.

E. Survey front-line employees on barriers to, and ideas for, matching the best in business.

F. Provide customers with choices in both the sources of service and the means of delivery.

G. Make information, services, and complaint systems easily accessible.

H. Provide means to address customer complaints.

I. Publish a customer service plan that can be readily understood by its customers.

J. Take action to motivate and recognize employees for meeting or exceeding customer service standards, and for promoting customer service.

K. Measure results achieved against the customer service standards and report those results to customers at least annually.

L. Create activities and programs, continuing throughout the year, that will engage customers in a discussion about how to improve Government service

This policy also supports provisions of the Government Performance and Results Act (GPRA) which requires Federal agencies to set performance goals and measures with an emphasis on outcomes. Measures linked to such important outcomes as customer satisfaction can provide valuable information about organizational performance.

3. Definitions.

A. Customer. Anyone who uses USGS information, services and products or who works with USGS to produce and deliver these.

B. Customer Service. Providing and supporting impartial scientific information, products, and services that are timely, cost effective, useful and relevant in a changing world.

C. USGS General Customer Segments.

(1) U.S. Department of the Interior

(2) Other Federal Agencies

(3) State Agencies

(4) Local Agencies

(5) Tribal Nations

(6) Non-profit natural resource and conservation organizations

(7) News media

(8) Private sector

(9) Congress

(10) Private citizens

(11) Academic institutions

(12) Foreign entities

(13) Internal customers

4. Policy. It is the policy of the USGS to provide customer service consistent with Executive Order 12862, to pursue established USGS customer service goals and their implementation as determined by the annual customer service planning process, and to incorporate customer service as an integrated component of the USGS strategic and program planning process. The goal of the USGS is to provide excellent service by providing impartial and credible scientific information, products and services that are timely, cost effective, and relevant. To accomplish this goal, USGS will identify its customers, obtain their feedback, and incorporate that feedback into program planning.

5. USGS Standards for Customer Service. USGS customers can expect the following:

A. Credible, relevant, impartial information about the natural sciences and support systems for these sciences.

B. Courteous and respectful treatment whenever customers interact with us.

C. Prompt and accurate answers to questions.

D. Timely responses to information requests through single-point contact whenever possible.

E. Customer input to be considered in USGS plans, programs, and services.

F. Prompt attention to mistakes and problems, and corrections made to repair these.

6. USGS Customer Service Goals.

A. USGS customers are satisfied with USGS products and services.

B. USGS products are delivered to customers in a timely and accurate manner.

C. Customer needs are integrated into USGS program planning and product development.

D. USGS products, services, and information are used by customers to help make this a better world.

7. Procedures and Responsibilities. As a Federal government organization, USGS has a responsibility to serve all of its customers quickly and in the highest quality manner. Providing good customer service is a responsibility of all USGS employees.

A. Unless otherwise determined by divisions or the Office of Program Support, Division/Office Information Chiefs will serve as champions for USGS customer service and will be responsible for working with the Program Operations Office to meet requirements set by Executive Order 12862 including:

(1) Setting annual customer service goals.

(2) Measuring progress in meeting goals.

(3) Collecting data needed for an annual customer service progress report.

(4) Identifying pilot opportunities for highlighting customer service.

B. To address these activities, Information Chiefs may wish to designate Customer Service Liaisons as points of contact. It is the responsibility of each division/office to integrate customer service activities into their program planning efforts and to ensure that:

(1) Their customers are identified.

(2) Feedback regarding services and products is obtained.

(3) Customer service goals are measured and achieved.

(4) Opportunities for improvement are identified and addressed.

(5) Customer service performance measures are developed and incorporated into programs as part of the GPRA and annual performance planning process.