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Grade DC

District of Columbia Public Library, DC
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Innovation Summary

In an effort to get a better snapshot of customer satisfaction - and improve service - DC Public Library is participating in Grade DC, which allows District residents to share their comments, opinions and experiences. Those views are captured and rated in an online portal and a letter grade assigned.

Problem Statement

The library system's process of soliciting ongoing feedback from customers is multifaceted, but can sometimes be sporadic. The library has engaged in spot checks and occasional surveys and responds to customers' feedback through social media, face-to-face and the library's website. However, there isn't a structure or consistent forum for collecting, organizing and analyzing customer comments. Grade DC provides the library with the opportunity to not only respond to library customers, but evaluate, analyze and determine trends based on feedback from library users.


Grade DC is an initiative launched by the District of Columbia Mayor Vincent C. Gray in June 2012 to improve service delivery of city agencies to District residents. The DC Public Library joined this effort in October 2012. Grade DC is an online feedback gathering system that offers multiple access points: (1) online survey; (2) text messages; (3) social media, mainly Twitter and Facebook. Comments about city services in any of these portals are captured and analyzed. Each participating agency, including the Library, receives a letter grade based on information gathered from these portals. To encourage library customers to share their experience through the Grade DC portal, library staff distribute bookmarks, palm cards and postcards to library customers. Additionally, Grade DC is regularly promoted on the library's website and monthly electronic newsletter. Each review -- which has prompts for feedback in various categories, staff interactions, facilities, in-location services and online services, as well as additional comments -- is combed through for positive and negative comments. A grade is issued for each comment; the more positive insights or words per comment, the higher the grade. Each month, the average grades for each library location and the library system as a whole are published and communicated to staff and the public. The platform is powered by newBrandAnalytics (nBA), a leading provider of social-market-intelligence solutions in the private sector.


The multiple access points provided by Grade DC have increased the volume of customer feedback. The ability to easily sort through reviews by categories (staff interactions, facilities, in-location services, online services, and additional comments) and the ability to use the platform to determine trends, retrieve data on the number of repeat customers and new customers and view customer reviews and grades for each location have allowed library staff and administration to hone in on problem areas and make adjustments where appropriate. Improvements the library has made thanks to Grade DC include: Decreasing the number of email due date notices to customers from four to one; Focused facility improvements to library buildings, particularly those that have not yet been renovated or rebuilt; and Improved response time to customer complaints, often within 24 hours. The library's grade also reflects our commitment to good customer service: over five months, the library's average grade is A-.