Customer Service & Government

We have engaged this topic privately and a bit here and there in our IG Live Series – SP!KE Chats. We were fortunate to discuss some elements from an international perspective with our guest Stephanie Thum.

Since we are in the election season, it seems very appropriate to dive in. Here we go!

We are always mentioning that customer service experience is relevant in every business/sector/industry. Therefore, governance is no different. As a matter of fact it may be the most important service relationship we try our best to ignore to our own detriment.

Who is the Customer in this Relationship?

We think the answer to this should be pretty obvious but based on how most governments actually function, you would be left to believe that the people are in the service of the government. Regardless of what you may see happening in your political systems today, always remember that the government is at your service. You are the customer. They need to be catering to your needs and expectations. As such, if you do not like the service you are experiencing, it is your right to go to the competition if you so desire.

Process & Efficiency

Customers are inclined to provide their feedback regarding their experiences with businesses. Customers are even enraged/disappointed/frustrated when they are unable to provide their feedback or there are no changes on account of said feedback. You need to keep this same energy for your government. It is the government’s responsibility to make information, opportunities and systems easily and widely available. It is their responsibility to act on the feedback provided by citizens to improve pain points. It is not the citizens’ duty to continue accepting inferior service.

What if huge pain points are the inadequacy of personnel and processes? Well that sure does sound like a recipe for customer experience hell in any business. If this is how you feel after interacting with government/government agencies then exercise your right as the customer in this equation to make your frustrations known.

It has become generally accepted that governments lag in areas that are considered fundamental in private sector. This is not ok. Government should be held to an even higher standard. Government must invest in their staff, their processes and the systems for the betterment of their customer – the citizens. There are no insurmountable barriers governments face in making these developments and bureaucracy is not unique to them either. Similar to private sector leaders recognizing the importance, need and benefit of good customer experiences, the same realization and action is necessary in government. The rewards businesses gain as a result will have an even more far reaching impact on countries.

Is it Possible?

Excellent customer experience in government is possible. I am sure no country has 100% pleased customers but companies do not have that result either. But we do see where some countries are ahead in making the pivot to understanding the customer experience. They are taking steps in that direction. We found this article quite intriguing and perhaps we need to consider ourselves here at SP!KE service designers based on their definition

Most of our readers are from Jamaica and the United States and the disparity is great. Of course, we have to account for the huge difference in resources. We are not comparing on that basis. The comparison is that in US government it is not just a talking point. The progress could be swifter but there is movement. It is not even a talking point for Governments in Jamaica. There are grumblings in the populace and a general acceptance that this is they way it is.

As parliamentarians become more accessible, it is the responsibility of the customers – the citizens- to clearly state their pain points.

  • It is not ok to be left on hold indefinitely or not get a response at all when you call a government agency
  • It is not ok to get a different procedure depending on who you talk to
  • It is not ok to encounter staff members with poor attitudes more often than not
  • It is not ok to wait months on end for resolutions
  • It is not ok to be forced to hang up when placed on indefinite hold
  • It is not ok that you need to provide verification after they have what was initially requested
  • It is not ok that you need 10 different forms of ID’s, your birth certificate and the blood of a spotless lamb to conduct business (I think you get the point)

There are no reasons for government to be held to a lower service standard than businesses. We can admit there is more to consider in government but it sure is worth it. Citizens need to hold them to it for the benefit of the nation.

Talk Soon

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