In Part 1 of Moving the Needle on Government Customer Service I talked about the state of customer service in government and compared customer service in industry and in government. In Part 2 I talked about the impact of government’s haphazard approach to customer service on employees, organizations and the public. In this third and last post on the subject I cover why government customer service as a whole lags behind industry and what to do to move the needle.
Government has been slow setting up call centers. Do not confuse a receptionist who answers the phone and routes calls with a contact center. Businesses know intuitively that product and service go hand in hand. A good product but poor customer service will have the same affect over time as selling a lousy product. To businesses customer service is part of the product life cycle. To government customer service is an add-on, a necessary evil.
Government employees are not trained in customer service. This doesn’t mean that government employees receive no training in customer service. Rather since customer service is not a job in and of itself, the training is general in nature. Contrast the customer service training the HR specialist who also answers customer calls in government gets with the customer service training that a customer service representative who also handles HR calls in industry gets.
The is part 1 of a 3 part post on moving the needle on customer service in government.
You cannot talk about efficiency in government without talking about customer service. You cannot do customer service well without the tools, strategy and training needed to manage relationships with your customer. Customer service means managing your interactions with recipients of your services. We have all heard a fair number of horror stories about government customer service and have probably contributed a few ouirselves. Bashing government customer service is almost a national pastime. The public’s perception is that the customer service you get from government is not as good as the service you get from the private sector. Generally this is true but not because government employees are not as dedicated or hard working as employees in the private sector.
Why Benchmark? Benchmarking is a proven tool for improving efficiency and reducing operating costs. Using common or industry key indicators for the service, an organization compares its indicators against the indicators for leading organizations providing the same service. Benchmarking tells you how your organization stacks up against other organizations. Just identifying where there are gaps is not enough. A good benchmarking study also tells you why gaps exist. It provides a road map for improvement by comparing processes, technology and differences in the operating environment that impact performance, efficiency and cost.