Leadership Corner

Improving Customer Experience throughout the Forest Service

December 19th, 2018 at 4:15PM

A picture of Lenise Lago in Forest Service uniform.
Associate Chief Lenise Lago

On June 7, 2018, Secretary Perdue convened the Customer Experience Leadership Summit where he declared, “USDA will be the most effective, most efficient customer-focused department in the entire Federal Government.

For the Forest Service, the Secretary’s charge is an opportunity to amplify and enhance the efforts we already have underway to improve our customer service and to exercise our core value of service. Forest Service employees have been working hard to supplement our existing processes and implement improved policies. I want to continue this journey together and look for ways we can offer even better service. The Secretary’s theme for customer experience is “Faster, Friendlier, and Easier.”

I want to share two inaugural Customer Experience Action Plans approved by the Department in August 2018 that initiate our customer experience journey towards simplicity, speed, and efficient customer service. One action plan is meant to address recreation visitors who use the interagency web platform, Recreation.gov to access and reserve a wide variety of recreation opportunities on National Forest System lands. The other one addresses customers purchasing Christmas tree permits on national forests.

To provide focus on customer experience the Forest Service designated three champions to coordinate our strategic approach to improve customer experience. The champions are Beattra Wilson, Urban and Community Forestry Program Manager; Jennifer McDowell, Masthead Migration Senior Project Manager; and Julie Nygard, Performance Management Branch Chief.

The Forest Service is committed to increasing customer satisfaction and strengthening public confidence through:

* Speeding up processes;

* Training employee-led teams to enhance processes that impact external customers;

* Simplifying access to programs and people;

* Simplifying access to all services and people, primarily over the phone and online; and

* Creating a culture where all employees look forward to helping customers.

To implement these aspects of the customer’s experience will be a challenging goal to engage more than 30,000 employees and establish system-wide commitments to customers. I know employees in the agency strive to improve the customer experience and will seize upon this challenge.

We’re excited for this challenge, and the opportunity to model being a values-based, purpose driven and relationship focused agency. This will make us even more successful at our core mission of “caring for the land and serving people.”