During Customer Service Week–10/4-10/9–we have the wonderful opportunity to highlight a top priority for us at the Social Security Administration. From our humble beginnings in 1935 when Franklin Roosevelt signed the original Social Security Act into law, customer service has been a part of our DNA. As much as Social Security has been a part of the fabric of America for the last 80 years, so too has been our long standing tradition of delivering courteous, responsive customer service to people of all ages who come to us for assistance, often at a critical juncture in their life.
From the courteous service provided by a small group of Social Security employees when the first office opened in Austin, Texas in 1936 to the more than 45,000 frontline employees who today provide exceptional customer service at over 1,400 local community-based offices around the country, Social Security has never wavered in its long-standing commitment to focus on the needs of the people we serve. We recognize that we are the face of government in the community for most people, and we welcome that role with a steadfast dedication to deliver the kind of customer service that the people of this Nation expect and deserve from their government.
Certainly, the needs and expectations of our customers have changed over our rich 80-year history. While in the early years of the program most government services were handled in person and most transactions were done on paper, today modern technology has allowed Social Security to adapt our service delivery model to meet the higher expectations and demands of a growing customer base.
For example, in the 1980’s Social Security was one of the first government agencies to offer nationwide toll-free telephone service at 1-800-SSA-1213. Last year, the toll-free telephone service handled over 60 million calls, proving that 3 decades later it is still a viable, convenient customer service option for many individuals. Today, as more and more Americans expect and demand more convenient service options, we provide options for the public to utilize the Internet to quickly and securely conduct their Social Security business online at www.socialsecurity.gov. It’s become such a popular option that more than half of all retirees now file for Social Security retirement benefits online from the comfort of their home or office.
A more recent customer service feature allows both current workers and current beneficiaries to create their own personal mySocialSecurity account to access and manage their Social Security records. More than 20 million individuals have created their own mySocialSecurity account, and the feature is so popular that a new account is created every 6 seconds! While Social Security is recognized today as a leader in customer service and has five of the top-rated government online services, including some rated higher than those offered by leading private-sector companies like Amazon and Apple, we are not resting on our laurels. From testing video technologies to enable individuals to conduct business face-to-face with us remotely, including from the comfort of their home, to adding real time online customer engagement tools like “click to call back” or “click to chat”, Social Security is constantly seeking better, more convenient ways to improve the customer experience.
There is one thing, however, that will not change—our commitment to the customer and giving every individual the choice of how they want Social Security to serve them. Whether someone elects to use one of our convenient and secure online service options or they choose to come see us face-to-face at one of our community-based offices, they can expect to be treated to exceptional service because we celebrate customer service week every day of the year, not just for one week. Our 65,000 employees are passionate about public service and are dedicated to preserving the legacy entrusted to us 80 years ago.