Obama issues executive order telling agencies to improve customer service online

President Obama issued an executive order on Wednesday instructing federal agencies to come up with ways to use technology to improve customer service within six months.

"Government managers must learn from what is working in the private sector and apply these best practices to deliver services better, faster, and at lower cost," Obama said in a statement.

"Such best practices include increasingly popular lower-cost, self-service options accessed by the Internet or mobile phone and improved processes that deliver services faster and more responsively, reducing the overall need for customer inquiries and complaints.

"The Federal Government has a responsibility to streamline and make more efficient its service delivery to better serve the public," he added.

Federal Chief Performance Officer Jeffrey Zients said one objective of the plan is to cut through the clutter of more than 20,000 federal websites, according to a report from Nextgov. He pointed to the IRS's e-file system as an example of strong customer service.

"The president has made clear that now more than ever we need to make every taxpayer dollar count," Zients said. "He's also been clear that agencies cannot fall into the trap of viewing decreased funding levels as an excuse for the status quo or for accepting diminished service levels."

The agencies have 180 days to develop a plan with the Office of Management and Budget that shows how they will streamline the delivery of online services to improve customer satisfaction. Agencies must also create ways to collect feedback from customers on their customer service.