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May 21, 2018 (updated as of September 11, 2018) DATA ANALYTICS

Tell Sonny Dashboard

Tell Sonny National Dashboard image

Tell Sonny National Dashboard (updated as of September 11, 2018)

When Secretary of Agriculture Sonny Perdue started his “Back to Our Roots” Tour in May 2018, he wanted to give USDA employees and members of the public a way to share their thoughts and questions directly with his Department. Members of the USDA’s newly established Office of Customer Experience, the USDA Office of the Chief Information Officer, and GSA’s Centers of Excellence put their heads together- the result was “Tell Sonny”, a web-based platform and phone contact line for individuals to submit comments or inquiries about the issues that matter most to them, across all USDA agencies and programs.

In a few short months, the Tell Sonny feedback channel has received over 800 responses, ranging from questions about completing USDA paperwork to feedback on USDA policies. Many of the respondents have since been contacted directly by USDA agency staff to help resolve issues or answer questions. Tell Sonny has developed into an important listening channel for the Department, providing insights on the types of issues most important to America’s farmers and ranchers, among others.

In a few short months, the Tell Sonny feedback channel has received over 800 responses, ranging from questions about completing USDA paperwork to feedback on USDA policies. Many of the respondents have since been contacted directly by USDA agency staff to help resolve issues or answer questions. Tell Sonny has developed into an important listening channel for the Department, providing insights on the types of issues most important to America’s farmers and ranchers, among others.

Along the way, the Data Analytics and Contact Center CoEs have worked to streamline the data collection, reporting, and follow-up processes associated with Tell Sonny. What started as a basic prototype – a simple webform, manual data processing, and a straightforward dashboard, has evolved through agile development processes into an important aspect of the Department’s focus on customer experience. A number of advances have been iteratively rolled out to streamline the platform back-end (data collection and management process) and front-end (visual presentation of summary data and analysis). These have included:

  1. Development of national- and state-level dashboard views, to help USDA understand region-specific data trends
  2. Deployment of dashboards via Tableau Server, enabling Office of Customer Experience staff to see near-real-time trends in Tell Sonny feedback from their browser
  3. Streamlining and automation of data collection processes, to limit the amount of staff time required to prep data
  4. Enhancement of the web data collection form to improve data quality, and deployment of a 5-star rating module
  5. Consolidation of the web form and contact center-based reporting processes into a single stream of data
  6. Development of a comment classification algorithm, to help Office of Customer Experience staff understand broad trends among incoming comments
  7. Addition of new filters and dashboard elements, to help highlight potential issues or risks with USDA policies, procedures, and operations

In addition to these advances which have already been implemented, the Data Analytics CoE has continued to work with the Secretary’s Office and the Office of Customer Experience to explore new options for managing, evaluating, and responding to large volumes of responses from the public. For example, the use of automated sentiment analysis of comment free text, to help USDA gauge perceptions of its agencies and programs. The Data Analytics CoE is also supporting evaluations of Customer Relationship Management (CRM) platforms to help USDA triage and manage responses to comments among its many agency staff and program experts.

Along with other USDA feedback mechanisms, Tell Sonny has evolved into an important channel for gauging public sentiment about USDA, and supporting producers, recreationalists, and members of the public looking for assistance.


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