FDA’s Enhancement of Web Site Search Engine Makes Industry Happy, Employees Miserable

Food and Drug Administration

Food and Drug Administration

(Silver Spring, MD) – Last month, the Web and Digital Media Team at the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) announced enhancements to the FDA Web site – specifically, its search capability. Sadly, few people noticed.

“It took a lot of collaboration to get the search engine where we want it,” said a FDA spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We had to talk to our Web staff. We had to talk to Web staff at all of the FDA centers. We had to talk to some other FDA staff – but we really can’t remember who. And, of course, we had to talk to industry representatives who naturally offered us bucket loads of money to get their products listed first in any search query.”

FDA Customer Satisfaction

FDA Customer Satisfaction

The agency, like other Federal agencies and businesses, uses the American Customer Satisfaction Index (ACSI) from ForeSee to gauge the positives and negatives of a Web site. Looking at the comments and ratings can help steer efforts for improving the customer experience.

“Yes, we do get the ACSI results,” said a FDA spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But we had to stop looking at the comments. Many were vulgar, and many were directed the mothers of staff members. That’s uncalled for. Plus, we don’t need to read their comments because, well, we just know better than the public does.”

The FDA search engine has improved in the following ways:

Improvement Explanation
Adding Search Filters “We felt it was time to allow our users to have the capability to narrow their search results,” said an FDA spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Even though the technology has been around for at least 10 years, we didn’t want to rush into anything. And now users have a smorgasbord of search limits! They can now type in almost 100 searchable words. And, most importantly, they can narrow their searches by drug company or industry entity. That’s what really counts.”
Archiving Older Pages “The decision to archive old FDA Web pages wasn’t taken lightly,” said a FDA spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “But we got tired of people writing in and telling us that a particular Web page or document hadn’t been updated in five or more years. So now the older, inaccurate information is archived. And the good news is that the older, outdated, and incorrect information is still available by searching the FDA archive. Hopefully, that will stop the whining.”
Improving Search Usability “We have updated our search engine from being totally useless to being relatively useless,” said a FDA spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “Maybe we’ll make it useful someday – but not today.”
FDA Employee Morale

FDA Employee Morale

The result: an increase in customer satisfaction on the FDA Web site. Unfortunately, the rise in public perception has come with a cost: the lowering of morale for FDA employees.

“Our studies show that the rise in approval from the public is inversely proportional to the morale of our dedicated employees,” said a FDA spokesman, speaking on condition of anonymity. “We’re looking into this, and everyone should know we take such numbers very seriously. But, everyone should also know that we’re more interested in satisfying Big Business than the people who are unfortunate enough to work here.”

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