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ACSI Implemented to Evaluate NIEHS Website

By Lou Rozier
October 2005

A respected indicator of customer satisfaction in the United States, the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) survey is the tool being utilized to evaluate 60 sites from across NIH, including NIEHS. Agency officials approved the use of set-aside evaluation funds to measure customer satisfaction and improve service.

ACSI is based on research from the University of Michigan Business School and has been used at over 100 federal sites, including NASA, FirstGov.gov, NCI and the National Library of Medicine's MedlinePlus.

NIH has been working with ForSee Results, a private company that focuses on web-based customer satisfaction management. ForSee Results uses the ACSI methodology. The goals of the survey for NIEHS are to:

  • measure user satisfaction with the specific site
  • determine who is coming to the site and why
  • learn whether they find the information they need

NIEHS has designed some custom questions to be included. The results of the survey, along with future usability testing, will be used to:

  • determine what changes should be made to improve the site
  • ensure that content and organization meet user needs
  • measure the effects on customer satisfaction of any changes made

The survey is randomly delivered to visitors to the NIEHS site and will remain on selected NIEHS web pages through the evaluation period, which runs for one year beginning September 2005. The pop-up questionnaire takes only 2-3 minutes to complete.

Users are given an invitation to complete the survey. It is possible to minimize the survey on your browser so that it can be taken at a later time to fit your personal schedule. Although it is not mandatory that the survey be completed, it will be most helpful to our office in the redesign of the site if you will provide feedback.

It will not be possible to identify individual respondents to the survey, so your answers will remain anonymous. A decision to not complete the survey will have no effect on your ability to access information.

Finally, it should be known that for the ACSI survey, NIH received permission from the Office of Management and Budget to employ "persistent cookies." A "persistent cookie" is code stored on a user's personal computer that the site will recognize when that user returns for another visit.

The cookie will:

  • block the repeated delivery of the survey either in the current visit or in any subsequent visit within a certain number of days
  • make record only that the visitor had the opportunity to answer the survey questions

The cookie will not:

  • collect any information about visitors
  • track the web-surfing activities of the visitors
  • indicate whether a visitor answered any questions, or record any answers given

Although users may take the survey without accepting cookies, they may find that the survey pops up more frequently. This is because the cookie prevents the survey from popping up when it knows that you have already taken the survey.



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