Veterans Education and Training Benefits
Veterans Benefits Administration, Department of Veterans Affairs
The Veterans Benefits Administration provides a wide array of services for veterans, including education and career training benefits.
Veterans appreciate the agency’s proactive communications—especially during the uncertainty of the pandemic—and the agency is now working to target its messages to meet customers’ need for more personalized information.
VBA is also beginning a modernization effort that will enable veterans to interact with the agency through additional channels, such as text and web chat, and get access to real-time information about their eligibility and benefits.
education benefit claims processed.
of veterans surveyed felt they were treated with courtesy and respect by VBA call center staff.
Customer Experience Insights
VBA conducts nationwide email campaigns and other outreach to provide veterans with information about applying for and using education benefits. Veterans have shared that these communications are particularly helpful during times of change, such as the coronavirus pandemic, when many veterans may have similar questions, according to VBA officials. However, through their customer research, VBA officials have heard from veterans that the amount of information provided can be overwhelming and that veterans would like to receive fewer, more personalized messages. In response to this feedback, VBA has consolidated some of the messaging it sends to customers and begun sending more targeted messaging to specific groups of customers based on their particular situation—such as applying for benefits or if an individual is about to graduate from college—and what information would be most relevant and useful at that time.
VBA’s customer research has shown that veterans would like more online self-service opportunities to manage and receive their education benefits, as well as the ability to communicate with VBA through additional digital channels. The agency is currently working on a large-scale modernization effort, called the Digital GI Bill, to improve how education benefits are delivered and provide veterans with a better experience. The modernized online platform developed as part of this effort will use the secure, authenticated account process already in place on VA.gov, and will provide veterans with the ability to call, email, text and chat with the agency to get real-time answers to questions about eligibility and benefits. The account will also enable veterans to easily and immediately access their own records without having to wait for VBA to provide them. For example, as part of this new platform, veterans will be able to access digital copies of certificates of eligibility or denial letters the day decisions are made, rather than needing to wait for a copy to be mailed to them. As it implements this initiative, VBA is using human-centered design to ensure that the final product meets veterans’ needs.
VBA’s National Call Center answers questions about all types of VBA benefits, including training and disability benefits. Callers in fiscal 2021 rated the call center’s staff highly but indicated that they did not always get all the information they were looking for during a call.
To improve veterans’ call center experience, the agency has expanded its ability to quickly resolve common issues on their first call. Veterans seeking certain information corrections or changes can now have their records updated instantaneously when calling the agency.[chart]
Leading Customer Experience Practices
The Partnership and Accenture developed the following list of practices 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.
A strong commitment and plan from agency leaders to prioritize customer experience is essential for sustained progress.
1. Includes high-quality customer experience in its strategic goals.
Customer service is one of the priorities listed in the agency’s strategic plan and is included in several of its strategic goals.
2. Specifies customer feedback as a key measure of the organization’s performance.
The percent of veterans who agree with the statement, “I trust VA to fulfill our country’s commitment to Veterans,” is a key performance measure.
3. Has a senior executive with the responsibility and authority to lead efforts to improve the customer experience across the organization.
The VA has a chief veterans’ experience officer who leads the agency’s customer experience efforts and strategy.
Ease of Customer Interactions
Interactions with the federal government should be easy, transparent and designed around user needs.
For the most common services provided, customers can:
1. Complete common transactions using the service delivery channel of their choice.
For post-9/11 GI Bill benefits, veterans can apply, view their payment history, request changes to benefits and change their direct deposit information online or over the phone. However, detailed account information for programs created before the post-9/11 GI Bill is not available online.
2. Obtain status updates through online self-service.
Veterans can check the status of payments online if they are post-9/11 GI Bill recipients, but not for older education programs.
3. Receive a response to feedback or answers to questions over social media.
VBA does not respond to customer questions or comments on Facebook or Twitter.
4. Access online information and support in languages other than English.
Some content about veterans’ benefits is available on the agency’s website in Spanish.
Listening to Customers and Acting on Feedback
To understand and prioritize customer needs, agencies should collect, publish, analyze and act on feedback.
1. Collects meaningful customer experience data across interactions and service delivery channels and shares it with the public.
Improvement from last year
VBA collects and publicly shares customer experience data for its call center services, in line with OMB guidance.
2. Collects and analyzes first-hand customer feedback to understand customers’ experiences, based on their own words.
VBA conducts human-centered design interviews and builds journey maps to understand customers’ experiences.
3. Aggregates and analyzes customer feedback across channels and programs, and shares feedback with relevant staff members so they can act on it.