Communicating with our Customers
A Look Inside OCSE - Story Series
The federal Office of Child Support Enforcement has a dedicated team of professionals who make sure our various and diverse audiences know what’s going on across the child support program. We respond to executive correspondence that the White House and members of the U.S. Congress receive from parents who want help with their child support cases. We also make sure that the content we deliver is consistent, factual, and appropriate for the readers who need the information.
No one wants to have to read something over and over again to grasp the message; that’s why federal law requires us to use plain language. It’s also efficient and improves customer service because it avoids misinterpretations, and we certainly don’t want to burden customers by making them call or write for clarification.
All of the material OCSE publishes funnels through an internal clearance process to make sure our information is clear, accurate, and relevant to our customers. We’ve also trained our staff so they know the plain language writing rules. We do our best to communicate concisely with our customers.
Our team of communications experts package information for a variety of customers and stakeholders – moms and dads, state and tribal child support leaders, legislative staff, our international partners, and the employer community. The way we communicate depends on who we’re trying to reach. We also publish this monthly newsletter, Child Support Report, to keep everyone informed of new initiatives and activities happening around the country.
Our customer service team works with parents. In many cases, we are their first and only contact, even though they may have called or written to the White House or other elected officials. Our staff provides program information, navigates child support processes, and helps solve problems in complicated interstate cases. As a team, we provide the facts in the simplest and clearest way possible so that we address their concerns. We work closely with our state customer service contacts to get current information about the case to give the customer a written response.
Doing this work helps us acquire a sense of the key issues, complaints, and concerns that custodial and noncustodial parents have about the child support program. We see where the bottlenecks are, where cases stall in the process, and what legislative needs the public wants addressed. We also capture and track inquiry information, demographics, trends, and statistical data that we can use to improve the child support program and better serve the needs of our customers.
We also need to maintain strong communications with other customers, partners, and stakeholders. That’s why we make sure we update our website frequently with policy changes, research reports, and other news and resources. We want to keep our customers informed and equip our partners with tools and information to run the child support program smoothly.
Visit the Child Support Professionals section of our website to access OCSE policy and federally required forms as well as other resources about the program. Our Parents section includes contact information for all state child support programs, information on applying for services, and details about changing a child support order.
About the Authors
Crystal Peeler and Shawyn Drain are members of the Division of Customer Communications at the Office of Child Support Enforcement. Adapted from the original article in the January 2019 Child Support Report.