Airport Security Screening and Passenger Support Services This customer experience profile is from 2020. To view this year’s profile, click here. User Interactions Customer Feedback Social Media Presence Customer Experience Indicators Executive Summary Transportation Security Administration officers responsible for keeping air travel safe screened more than 813 million travelers in fiscal 2019, on par with the busiest travel years on record. The screening environment changed dramatically in early 2020 as air travel evaporated during the coronavirus pandemic. TSA faced new challenges in keeping staff and travelers safe during screening interactions and answering questions from the public about traveling during the crisis. Before the pandemic hit, travelers were largely satisfied with the overall screening process at TSA checkpoints, citing reasonable wait times and professional officers. People also had positive experiences when seeking TSA guidance and information on social media about traveling. To improve the customer experience, TSA officers could communicate more clearly with travelers during screening processes, for example, explaining to passengers why they have been selected for additional screening. This is an issue we noted in our report last year that TSA still needs to address. Additionally, while customer satisfaction with the TSA website has improved overall, some webpages, including those with important information for travelers with disabilities, could be more user-friendly. Data at a Glance increase in satisfaction with TSA.gov since 2016 customer satisfaction rate with #AskTSA social media accounts of passengers surveyed in 2019said that TSA officers did not clearly explain the reasons for additional screening More Profiles Airport Security Screening and Passenger Support Services Citizenship and Immigration Applicant Services Customs Airport Security and Screening Services Farm Loan and Conservation Service Federal Student Aid Individual Taxpayer Services Medicare Customer Support Services Outdoor Recreation Reservations for Federal Lands Passport Services Veterans Education and Training Benefits Veterans Outpatient Health Care Services Service Overview Primary Customers Passengers of many modes of transportation within the United States, with air travelers making up the majority. Key services related to security screening and passenger support (data for fiscal 2019) Security screenings at U.S. airports. 813.3 million passengers and crew members screened.(780.6 million in fiscal 2018) Information about policies and procedures for traveling and preparing for checkpoint screenings. Enrollment and application processing for TSA PreCheck.™ 2,139,216 new enrollments (1.8 million in fiscal 2018.) 590,918 renewals(818 renewals in fiscal 2018.1) Assistance during the security screening process—through the TSA Cares program— for passengers with disabilities, medical conditions or other special circumstances. 27,712 requests for assistance.(24,242 in fiscal 2018) Clarification related to watchlist names to prevent confusion about and misidentification of travelers through the Department of Homeland Security Traveler Redress Inquiry Program. 16,141 applications reviewed.(15,710 in fiscal 2018) People Interact With TSA By (All data for fiscal year 2019) VISITING ONLINE 58.4 million visits to TSA.gov (48.9 million in fiscal 18) CALLING THE CONTACT CENTER 1.3 million calls (1.2 million in fiscal 18) AVERAGE WAIT TIME FOR CALLS <1 minute (same in fiscal 18) EMAILING THE CONTACT CENTER >120,905 emails (113,674 in fiscal 18) Customer Experience Insights Click tabs to expand Even before travel slowed due to the coronavirus, most travelers thought wait times at TSA security checkpoints were reasonable, according to TSA staff. Average wait times for standard TSA checkpoints in fiscal 2019: about 4.8 minutes.3 Average wait times for standard TSA checkpoints during peak travel times in fiscal 2019: 14.2 minutes. Average wait times PreCheck™ lanes in fiscal 2019: about 1.6 minutes. People had good experiences when seeking travel guidance from TSA on social media. As one of the first federal agencies to use social media to provide customer service, TSA uses multiple platforms to share information with customers about screening procedures and respond to travelers’ inquiries. During the rapidly evolving coronavirus pandemic, social media channels were crucial for quickly getting travelers the latest information. The agency used its AskTSA Twitter account to answer questions—typically within an hour—and clarify which items travelers could bring in their carry-on bags to stay safe. In addition to disinfectant wipes and facemasks, the agency started allowing one liquid hand sanitizer container up to 12 ounces, instead of the original 3.4 ounce-limit. Customer satisfaction rate for AskTSA social media accounts: above 92%. People were satisfied with TSA telephone support, according to the agency’s customer survey. The call line provides information about traveling and passing through security checkpoints, including clarification around ID requirements, what items people can bring through security checkpoints and enrollment into TSA PreCheck.™ Callers’ rating of TSA customer service line support: 4.3 out of 5. Some travelers were confused about aspects of the screening process. TSA may select travelers for additional screening for a variety of reasons, for example, suspicious behavior or they have the same name as someone on a list of known or suspected terrorists. The agency does not disclose these reasons to individual passengers for security purposes. However, travelers become confused and frustrated when officers do not explain why someone was selected for additional screening or what the additional screening process entails. 21% of passengers stated that TSA officers did not clearly explain the reasons for additional screening, according to a 2019 TSA survey.4 In 2019, TSA began updating its standard training for security officers to help them communicate better with the public, including helping security officers explain why additional screening is necessary without revealing sensitive security information. Customer satisfaction with content on TSA.gov has improved since 2016.5 Customer Satisfaction with TSA.gov FY 16 FY 17 FY 18 FY 196 How would you rate your overall experience today? (Excellent or Good) 72.0% 78.0% 83.3% 83.5% Were you able to complete the purpose of your visit? (Yes) 66.9% 73.5% 79.7% 79.2% Will you still return to this website? (Yes) 88.1% 91.2% 93.4% 94.7% Will you recommend this website to a friend or colleague? (Yes) 85.5% 90.6% 92.3% 91.6% While satisfaction with TSA.gov overall has improved, on some key webpages it could be much easier for users to find answers to their questions. TSA webpages that answer questions about new Real ID requirements and describe special procedures for travelers with disabilities and medical conditions received a D in our analysis. Click to see full results of our website experience analysis Website Experience: How easy is it to navigate and understand online information? Reviewers looked at the pages from the perspective of people seeking to answer two questions: What support or special procedures are in place while going through a security checkpoint if I have a disability or medical condition? https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures https://www.tsa.gov/travel/passenger-support What identification do I need to travel and how can I prepare for the new Real ID requirements? https://www.tsa.gov/travel/security-screening/identification https://www.tsa.gov/real-id TSA Grade D Strengths Finding general information about travelers with disabilities from the main page is relatively simple—it is clearly shown with an icon. Including an FAQs section is a helpful approach to educating users about the new REAL ID requirements. Opportunities to improve Locating specific information about what a traveler with disabilities can expect or will need to do to prepare is more difficult than finding general information. Users may miss the drop- down menu with this information because it is off to the side and low enough on the page that it is not seen at first glance. Information about preparing for new REAL ID requirements could be more user-friendly if presented as steps or a task-oriented list, rather than as a narrative. Some answers in the FAQs are unclear. For example, the answer to “What happens if my ID doesn't have a star?” is “You must present an acceptable ID…” This doesn’t really tell a user what to do next if they don’t have a compliant ID, which is the information they really need. General disability information is not as useful as specific condition-oriented information, which is difficult to find because users need to scroll down to see the link: (https://www.tsa.gov/travel/special-procedures) REAL ID information should be less narrative and instead present the steps users need to take to become REAL ID compliant (https://www.tsa.gov/real-id) Key Improvement from last year Ongoing challenge Connecting on Social Media As of September 2020, the agency’s social media presence included: Twitter (@AskTSA) Joined: May 2015 Followers: 55,300 Total tweets: 125,600 (@TSA) Joined: November 2011 Followers: 237,700 Total tweets: 10,000 Facebook (@AskTSA) Joined: June 2016 Followers: 36,500 Total likes: 34,000 (@TSA) Joined: April 2017 Followers: 28,600 Total likes: 26,300 Instagram (@TSA) Joined: June 2013 Followers: 1,000,000 Total posts: 1,756 YouTube (TSA) Joined: June 2007 Subscribers: Not available Total views: 19.6 million Social media practices Posts almost daily?No Responds to customers?Yes – regularly Includes multimedia content?Yes For background information on these metrics and our full methodology click here. How TSA adapted services during the coronavirus The typically busy environment at TSA checkpoints changed drastically during the coronavirus pandemic as the number of air travelers plummeted. Throughout April 2020, the agency screened around 100,000 passengers a day, down from more than 2 million passengers a day in April 2019, according to TSA data. The agency shifted its focus to keeping staff and passengers safe during the screening experience and answering questions about traveling during the crisis. It implemented numerous procedures such as metering passengers to increase physical distance between individuals waiting in security checkpoint lines, training employees to thoroughly clean frequently touched surfaces such as luggage bins and having screeners use a fresh pair of gloves upon the request of passengers. The agency used its @AskTSA Twitter account to answer questions, and set up a website to inform the public if an officer had tested positive for the virus, listing the airport and the last day the individual had worked. Despite these steps, the agency faced criticism that it could have done more, including issuing more personal protective equipment to employees and providing guidance on how to deal with passengers who appeared to be sick.2 Enrollment centers for TSA PreCheck™ applications largely remained open during the coronavirus outbreak, with 80% operating as of late July 2020. Though enrollment centers operated at decreased staffing capacity, customers did not experience delays in their PreCheck™ applications since the agency dealt with fewer applicants. Customers also could fully renew their TSA PreCheck™ status online. Indicators that the Customer Experience is a High Priority Click buttons to expand. Commitment to Customer Experience TSA: Includes high-quality customer experience in its strategic goals. No Specifies customer feedback as a key measure of the organization’s performance. No However, TSA tracks performance measures important to customers, such as wait times at security checkpoints and customer feedback from contact centers and social media channels, and reports them to senior executives. Has a senior executive with the responsibility and authority to lead efforts to improve customer experience across the organization. No However, TSA has a customer service branch manager who oversees the agency’s customer service branch comprised of seven employees who lead customer experience improvements across the agency. The branch supports nearly 200 customer support managers dedicated to customer service at each airport across the country. Shares meaningful customer feedback data with the public. Partially TSA publishes data about website and contact center satisfaction, but not data about satisfaction with airport security screenings, due to restrictions with the Paperwork Reduction Act. TSA is working to meet the PRA requirements to publish this information in the future. Improvement from 2019. Customer Service Basics For the most common services provided, customers can: Complete frequently used transactions online. Partially Customers can ask questions about what items are permitted on airplanes and apply for TSA PreCheck™ and the DHS Traveler Redress Inquiry Program. For security purposes, the TSA PreCheck™ application process requires an in-person appointment. Easily find information to call an appropriate representative. Yes Schedule in-person appointments. Yes Customers can schedule appointments online for a TSA PreCheck™ background check, finger printing and opt to receive appointment reminders. Obtain status updates. Yes For example, customers can get status updates on their Precheck applications and check the status of their redress complaints. Find standardized and consistent information and guidance across channels. Yes For example, TSA has systems in place to coordinate updates on both its website, TSA Contact Center and social media channels to ensure customers receive consistent information. Improvement from 2019. Customer Feedback The agency collects and analyzes data and information on customer perceptions: Of specific interactions, including website visits, phone calls and in-person appointments. Yes Of a customer journey through a series of interactions or multistage processes that build toward a specific goal. Yes Of the overall service the organization provides. Yes Through qualitative research, such as customer interviews, focus groups, analysis of social media comments or direct observation. No However, TSA has conducted internal qualitative research with TSA staff to better understand the customer experience. Through a structured analysis of comments about the service left on social media channels. Yes More details about our methodology Footnotes and Methodology Footnotes 1 This figure was substantially lower in 2018 as TSA PreCheck™ launched in late 2012 and membership expires after five years. More memberships were due for expiration in 2019 than in 2018. 2 Washington Post, Investigation Ordered into TSA Response to Coronavirus After Whistleblower Complaint, June 18 2020. Retrieved: https://wapo.st/2QFF8yI 3 TSA calculated average wait times across 450 airports nationwide. These times may appear lower than expected due to lower volumes of travelers at off-peak hours. 4 TSA Customer Experience Action Plan, June 2019. 5 Data from an analysis of TSA website metrics. Scores represent totals for the year aggregated from monthly reports. 6 Data only available for the first half of fiscal 2019. Social media review methodology To assess how agencies use social media to interact with customers, we examined three social media best practices identified through conversations with experts: posting frequently, delivering engaging content and responding to questions. We analyzed the most active Facebook or Twitter account by selecting specific months to examine trends throughout the year, including changes to social media activity during the coronavirus. The team defined posting almost daily as meaning the agency posted for at least 25 out of 30 days on average in September 2019, December 2019, March 2020 and May 2020. Includes multimedia content is defined as whether the agency posted a range of multimedia content with interactive elements beyond just static images. Responds to customers is defined as whether or not agencies respond to questions through the direct message feature on Facebook or in the comment section of posts. To assess this, we examined September 2019, December 2019 and April 2020 (or another month when data was not available). “No” indicates the agency never or rarely responds to comments; “Yes – occasionally” indicates the agency responds sometimes, but there does not appear to be a consistent pattern over time; and “Yes – regularly” indicates the agency responds to comments on a frequent and consistent basis over time. The number of tweets, likes, posts and views reflect the total activity since the social media account was established. Website experience methodology For each agency, we selected for review a set of webpages that customers would theoretically visit to seek answers to frequently asked questions, vetted with each agency. We partnered with the Center for Plain Language to conduct this review. The center followed the same methodology it uses to assess plain language for its annual ClearMark awards for a range of organizations and its annual Federal Plain Language Report Card for the government. Two plain-language experts individually and independently reviewed and scored each set of pages, using five plain-language criteria to assess each site. They rated each criterion on a five-point scale: Information design and navigation. Pictures, graphics and charts. Style or voice. Structure and content. Understanding of audience. The reviewers then met to reach consensus on strengths and weaknesses of each site and to assign a letter grade based on their ratings. Customer experience indicators methodology The Partnership and Accenture developed the following list of indicators to understand how agencies prioritize the customer experience, and steps they can take to improve. The list is based on research about effective customer experience practices in both government and the private sector, and aligns with practices in a customer experience maturity self-assessment for agencies developed by the Office of Management and Budget. Leaders who participated in the Partnership’s federal customer experience roundtable provided input. Commitment to customer experience The agency: Includes high-quality customer experience in its strategic goals. Criteria: 1) customer experience with the agency’s services is listed in the strategic plan as one of the organization’s top priorities or a supporting goal of one of the priorities 2) the strategic plan provides specific actions the agency will take to improve customer experience. Specifies customer feedback as a key measure of the organization’s performance. Criteria: There is a performance measure included in the agency’s strategic plan, annual performance report or agency priority goals that is based on feedback directly from customers Has a senior executive with the responsibility and authority to lead efforts to improve customer experience across the organization. Criteria: Based on a review of the agency organizational chart and online descriptions of leadership positions, the agency has an executive who meets the following criteria: 1) customer experience is his or her primary responsibility 2) he or she reports to the head of the organization or a deputy 3) his or her work spans all major service delivery channels (e.g., online services, contact centers, face-to-face services). Shares meaningful customer feedback with the public.Criteria: In alignment with the Office of Management and Budget’s guidance on customer experience measurement, the agency publishes customer feedback that: 1) represents multiple service delivery channels 2) provides details into different aspects of the experience (e.g., beyond overall customer satisfaction) Customer Service Basics For the most common services provided, customers can: Complete online frequently used transactions.Criteria: Based on a review of the agency’s website, customers can complete major services or transactions online. Easily find information to call an appropriate representative.Criteria: Does the agency’s website provide a clear explanation of which number to call for specific issues or provide one number that customers can call to get routed to the appropriate person. Schedule in-person appointments. Criteria: Based on a review of the agency’s website, customers can schedule appointments for in-person services. Obtain status updates.Criteria: Customers can get current updates through an online or self-service channel that includes estimated timelines on items such as submitted applications or benefit disbursements. Find standardized and consistent information and guidance across channels. Criteria: At least two service delivery channels have integrated knowledge management systems so that when content for customers on one channel is updated, it is updated on the other channel. Customer Feedback The agency collects and analyzes data and information on customer perceptions: Of specific interactions, including website visits, phone calls, and in-person appointments. Of the customer journey through a series of interactions or multi-stage processes that build toward a specific goal. Of the service provided by the organization overall. Through qualitative research, such as customer interviews, focus groups or direct observation. Through a structured analysis of comments about the service left on social media channels. This customer experience profile was produced in collaboration with Accenture Federal Services.