Governments Turning To The Improvement of Customer Service To Citizens


Top : Customer Service - Government and Public Sector:

Customer Service From Government - A Thorny Mix

Governments at all levels have "upped their game" when it comes to serving citizens, but the challenges remain. Over the last decade, and leveraging technology, governments have become more open, and easier to access.

For example, much of the information from government, and traditionally distributed on paper is now available online. It's now possible to file certain kinds of government applications and forms completely online.

Will Citizens Ever "Like" Their Governments?

The question remains: Will citizens ever actually appreciate the better service? Governments often regulate citizens and nobody likes to be told what to do, and that colors citizen perceptions. With the media often covering the "bad news" stories about government, it's unlikely that tax payers will ever feel governments are serving them well.

Should Governments Be Concerned About Customer Service?

Here's the key question: Should governments continue to use taxpayer dollars to improve service levels? What's the payoff if any?

Below are some articles and journal articles on the topic

What's Happening With Public Sector Customer Service Initiatives

That's Enough About You: Customer Service - by Elise Piper
A rant about being in the unenviable position of dealing with some of the realities of government "customers". Sprinkled with expletives, but gives a good idea of some of the issues. (Views So Far 263 )

How US state governments can improve customer service - by McKinsey
Summary of suggestions regarding how American state governments can improve customer service based on the McKinsey study, Putting Citizens First. What's missing here is the WHY, and just as importantly, estimates of the COST to the taxpayer for improving service to citizens. (Views So Far 192 )

15 Government Customer Service Trends for 2015 - by MARTHA DORRIS
The inevitable predictions that come with each new year, this article predicts fifteen trends the author believes will occur during 2015 regarding governments and improving customer service. They are sufficiently vague that one couldn't revisit in 2016 to evaluate the accuracy of the predictions. (Views So Far 180 )

Have citizen expectations REALLY changed? Maybe - by Bobby Caudill
There have been a lot of claims about how social media has changed the public's expectations about government and how they are to be served. I've always felt that despite these claim, people are people, and are still looking for the same things from government they were looking for ten years ago. Not everyone agrees. Here's more. (Views So Far 220 )

Are We Ready to Provide Great Customer Service in Government? | Governing People - by Candi Harrison
On April 27, 2011, President Obama issued an Executive Order: Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service. In a nutshell, it directs agencies to develop and monitor customer service plans and measures and to solicit customer feedback to improve service. It calls for agencies to use technology to streamline customer service and to emulate practices that have worked well in the private sector. This isn't the first Presidential customer service initiative - President Clinton issued an Executive Order in 1993, requiring agencies to establish customer service standards - but it's a huge step at a time when public expectations of government service have never been higher... (Views So Far 455 )

Governments Rival the Private Sector in Customer Service - by Accenture
Governments that lead the public sector in customer service are focused on developing sophisticated, interactive and transactional capabilities on par with the best of the private sector, according to a new global research report by Accenture (NYSE: ACN). In the report, Accenture finds a new trend whereby governments are reinventing their customer service delivery programs in order to help build greater trust--and this is redefining the relationship between citizens and their governments. From allowing drivers to pay for street parking using their mobile phones to using text messaging for "amber alerts" on missing children to installing interactive kiosks that provide information about city events, dining, shopping, and entertainment, governments around the world are adopting innovative new approaches to deliver greater value to citizens. (Views So Far 372 )

Government solutions - Some Poll Results On Government Websites - by na
In 2007, we carried out a Customer Carewords poll of hundreds of government web professionals in the United States, New Zealand and Canada. Out of a list of 22 phrases that described potential experiences of government websites, participants were asked to choose the top three words/phrases that best described their experience of government websites. The top three phrases from Canadian government web professionals, with 38 percent of the vote, were: Organization-centric; Confusing; Too many websites. (Views So Far 443 )

Customer service in government: not like selling burgers -- Federal Computer Week - by Alice Lipowicz
Chronicles the lessons government agencies are learning as they step up their efforts to reach out to customers. Highlights the Obama executive order of April, 2011 (Views So Far 547 )

Craig Newmark on better government through enlightened customer service - by Alex Howard
Would you "like" a government agency on Facebook? Would you "like" a service delivered by a .gov website? How would you feel if a government official "liked" you back? How would you like to be identified online? There are no easy answers to these questions, as anyone who attended the FTC privacy workshops or recent "privacy camps" in the District of Columbia or San Francisco knows. Craig Newmark, the founder of, attended the privacy camp in San Francisco and shared a few thoughts about issues of trust, identity, social networking and government. (Views So Far 303 )

Customer Service Government? - by Robert Cornwall
what is interesting to me is the concept of voter/citizen as customer. In these campaigns, Snyder's included, the citizen is addressed as a customer, but what does that mean? If Snyder means that things like transparency and efficiency and even good service should be part of the governmental ethos, well I would agree. But, if citizens are customers, or at least considered customers, does that not feed the consumerist mentality that makes governance almost impossible. Government is put in the position of pleasing individual customers, which means it may not do what is right, but what is expedient. I think we're already there, but this only makes it more apparent. (Views So Far 398 )

Obama Orders Federal Agencies To Upgrade Customer Service - Government - Policy and Regulation - Informationweek - by Candi Harrison
Brief report on President Obama's executive order on government customer service, mentioning how the IRS has saved "hundreds of millions of dollars" by going digital. (Views So Far 370 )

Improving Government Customer Service | - by Leigh Buchanan
The customer service initiative in the state of Michigan is profiled in this article on customer service in government and how the public sector is looking to business as a customer service model (Views So Far 382 )

Customer Service, Government Style - by Tod Newcombe
Summary of an Accenture research report ranking the various governments of various countries in terms of the customer service level they provide. (Views So Far 373 )

Disasters Highlight Government and NGO Need To Train Staff To Deal With Frustrated and Emotional Clientele - by Robert Bacal
A look at how natural disasters are creating more angry and frustrated government customers, and why it's even more important now to have government staff trained in dealing with angry, irate, and emotionally distraught citizens. (Views So Far 210 )

Local Governments Rated Higher than State or Federal Governments - by Evelina Moulder
Short article outlining research findings that local government customer service is perceived more positively than larger that of larger governments. (Views So Far 245 )

Why Customer Service Matters, Even For A Government Agency Or Other Sole Provider - by Micah Solomon
Solomon doesn't hit all the important points about why government service is important for governments, but there's a few. (Views So Far 202 )

Are We Ready to Provide Great Customer Service in Government? | Governing People - by Candi Harrison
On April 27, 2011, President Obama issued an Executive Order: Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service. In a nutshell, it directs agencies to develop and monitor customer service plans and measures and to solicit customer feedback to improve service. It calls for agencies to use technology to streamline customer service and to emulate practices that have worked well in the private sector.""This isn't the first Presidential customer service initiative - President Clinton issued an Executive Order in 1993, requiring agencies to establish customer service standards - but it's a huge step at a time when public expectations of government service have never been higher. As a long-time advocate for great customer service in government, I'm turning cartwheels! ""But, wait...can it work? (Views So Far 510 )

Improving Government Customer Service - by INC
The state of Michigan wants to raise its service game, and it is turning to entrepreneurial businesses for help. Zingerman's, an Ann Arbor-based deli and food company at which doing the right thing by customers is bred in the bone, has stepped up to train government employees in service culture. Michigan's new governor, Rick Snyder, posed the idea to Paul Saginaw, a co-founder of Zingerman's, when the two crossed paths at an awards dinner last winter. "I said, 'Are you serious?' (Ed. note: My belief is that government needs much more advanced and specialized training in customer service). (Views So Far 457 )

Customer Service Excellence In Government (UK) - by UK Government
Customer Service Excellence is a program embedded in the British governmental system -- 3 years old, designed to improve service provided to the British population. Lauded as an ideal model of best practice, we can learn from what they do. (Views So Far 441 )

Craig Newmark on better government through enlightened customer service - O'Reilly Radar - by Alex Howard
"First, listen," he said. "Figure out if their concern is valid. If it's valid, you solve it. There will be people you can never make happy. You help them in good faith but you need to know when to give up."""What if government agencies, employees and elected officials can't "give up" on providing online services? "That shouldn't be an excuse for not delivering good customer service," said Newmark. "A related problem is trying to help someone who is having trouble articulating a problem. You need to proceed in good faith and listen."""How would he like to be contacted by someone in government? Again, Newmark kept it simple: "Tell me who they are, where they work and what they want to know." (Views So Far 625 )

Extending a Customer Service-Oriented Government | Reach The Public - by Kelsey Lund
Making use of some basic technology can have a positive impact on service offered by government to the public. Here are some examples of government department success. (Views So Far 278 )

Service Call: Government and Customer Service - by Camille Tuutti
Incredibly ugly format, but a lengthy article that seeks to challenge government to achieve better customer service. new (Views So Far 9 )

Integrating Multichannel Communication in Gov't Customer Service - GovLoop - Knowledge Network for Government - by Kim Truong
Access a free guide to using multichannel customer service in government, but be aware that these papers are sponsored by companies that profit from selling help to government to implement multichannel contact points. (Views So Far 207 )

Re-Imagining Customer Service in Government - by na
Customer service is a core function of government. With government customers having heightened expectations of the level of service government should provide, now is the time for government to identify ways to improve how they deliver customer service. Improving customer service in government does not come without significant challenges. Throughout the Re-Imagining Government Customer Service Research Report, we identify challenges and provide strategies to help you improve your customer service initiatives. (Views So Far 343 )

Customer Service Plan Signature Initiative - by na
U.S governments have been asked to create customer service plans, at the direction of the President, and to improve public sector service given to the public. Here's a list of many many such plans. Interesting, regardless of whether you are in government or not, since it shows where organizations are going. (Views So Far 231 )

SSA Advisors Coming to a Screen Near You - by Joseph Marks
Something different. Imagine interacting with government "face-to-face" via videoconferencing. Whether this will actually come about is another issue, but the concept is...well interesting: Excerpt: The Social Security Administration is considering offering more of the customer services it currently provides at field offices and on its 800 number through videoconference calls with agents that retirees would access through the agency's main webpage, officials said Tuesday. (Views So Far 193 )

Is mobility the way out of customer satisfaction stagnation? -- FCW - by Matthew Weigelt
Government agencies are looking at the trend towards mobile computing to see if they can increase customer and citizen satisfaction with the service they receive from government agencies. (Views So Far 210 )

Customer service in government: not like selling burgers - by Alice Lipowicz
Article discussing the issue of customer service in government, highlighting that it's different from what private sector does. Amen. Excerpt: Nearly everywhere they turn, federal agencies are getting the message that they must do better at delivering customer service to the public. The point has been highlighted recently on three separate occasions: NASA's online dialogue with the public regarding its open-government plan, the General Services Administration's Making Mobile Gov campaign and an April executive order from President Barack Obama on the topic. It sounds straightforward, but government agencies are not McDonald's. Their success depends on factors more complex than how many burgers and fries are sold in a given day. (Views So Far 248 )

Survey says people prefer online federal customer service - by Alice Lipowicz
Brief article on people preferring to interact with government online, but here's the secret: The only reason that preference seems to operate is that customer service via the phone (for government or private sector) is so terrible people will try ANYTHING new in the hope it's better. (Views So Far 267 )

Agencies can improve customer service by thinking like customers - by Candi Harrison
A little superficial, but there's a good point here - that government and their staff need to think more from their "customers'" perspectives. It's easy for employees to forget to look from the other side of the "desk". (Views So Far 335 )

Should Local Government Offices Develop Customer Service Plans? - GovLoop - Knowledge Network for Government - by Paul Wolf
Many elected officials talk about creating government that is customer friendly but few actually require their department heads to take steps in writing and in practice to actually improve the delivery of services and customer service. What do you think about the idea of local government department heads creating a Customer Service Plan? (Views So Far 281 )

IRS finds customer service taxing, - by Michelle Singletary
Ouch. IRS not fairing well as they limit the kinds of things they offer via the telephone: Excerpt - If you have a question for the IRS that you think can be answered over the phone, think again. Last year, more than 100 million calls were placed to the tax-collection agency. Nearly 20 million of them went unanswered. Those who did get through were put on hold for an average of almost 18 minutes. (Views So Far 129 )

Using Technology to Enhance the Customer Experience - Arlington National Cemetery - GovLoop - Knowledge Network for Government - by Bryce Bender
Major Nick Miller, Army CIO, discussed how the Army is enhancing the customer service experience using the new ANC Explore app recently on the DorobekINSIDER program and also at GovLoop and Oracle's event, The Changing Faces of Customer Service in Government. Maj. Miller noted a driving force behind the development of the Explorer app was to bring the rich history of Arlington National Cemetery alive to increase the customer service and experience. For the public, technology plays a key role in aiding visitors who have those key fundamental questions. Through the use of GIS, ANC was able to transform a previously archaic record system to build a custom app designed for public consumption. Now, families and visitors alike can go to ANC and get very accurate location information on gravesites and find routes to get there. There are 3 essential functions and decisions of the Explorer app that the ANC staff had to overcome. (Views So Far 123 )

Online Database of Government and Non-Profit Social Media Policies - by Chris Boudreaux
Real life examples of social media policies from the world of government, public sector, and non-profit organizations. Invaluable. (Views So Far 305 )

Why build a great customer experience if you have no competition? Government - by Micah Solomon
The key point in this short article on customer experience is not so much that governments will breed competition if they fail at customer service, but that streamlining customer service and experience for customers also ends up making things easier for the government agency. (Views So Far 216 )

Service Where You Serve: Connecting with Citizens Where They Connect with You - by Melissa Hardt
Propaganda? Perhaps so, as we see yet another set of "reasons" to spend more public tax payers dollars on using online channels to communicate with citizens, when most research suggests that customers still prefer face to face and phones, if only those modes of customer support weren't so darned TERRIBLE. Interesting to note that the advice to government on this topic almost always comes from either digital converts (ie. social zealots), or from forums and individuals that are in the business of making money from social/digital. (Views So Far 329 )

22 Ideas to Improve Customer Service In Government - by na
A summary of ideas about how government can improve customer service. But most of them are trivial and don't really address the root cause reasons why customer service from government is not as good as it should be. (Views So Far 302 )

New Orleans City Hall reshapes its public face, tries to boost customer service | - by Richard Rainey
By all accounts New Orleans has made great strides in improving the customer service it provides to residents and visitors to City Hall. (Views So Far 294 )

How did NJ's DMV improve its customer service, and what lessons can that teach others? | The Asbury Park Press NJ | - by na
The DMV used to be a punchline. What lessons can public agencies and private businesses take from its efforts to improve customer service? (Views So Far 233 )

Satisfaction with fed customer service worst ever (2015) - by Colby Hochmuth
2015 research indicates high levels of citizen dissatisfaction with federal government customer service, such that it is the second lowest rated industry. (Views So Far 143 )

15 Government Customer Service Trends for 2015 - by MARTHA DORRIS
Predictions about 2015 and what will be trending and coming up this year and in subsequent years. (Views So Far 176 )

The Government Will See You Now - Lots of Room For Customer Service Improvement in 2015 - by Katherine McIntire Peters
Opinion piece stimulated by the U.S. fed. government announcement of awards to employees who serve customers well. The gist? Much remains to be done. Also shares some horror stories. (Views So Far 142 )

Franklin Police chief looks to enhance customer service in 2014 on Franklin Home Page - by na
Police chief pledges to upgrade customer service quality for the police. Kind of neat. (Views So Far 168 )

Report praises Newport's social services - by South Wales Argus
IMPROVING customer service, collaborating with charities and working with ethnic groups to promote the safeguarding of children are among the strengths of Newport's social services department, according to an inspection report. (Views So Far 308 )

Customer Experience in the Government sector: A Marathon not a Sprint - by Mei Lin Fung
When you think it is a sprint and it turns out to be a marathon, then you might give up. That's one reason why CEM in government is the most challenging area to drive Customer Experience. It is also the area that can be the most rewarding. For those who are up to the challenge - the long hard work of driving CEM in Government is worthwhile when you know that millions of lives will be changed for the better through your efforts, that your passion to improve standard of living and benefit humankind is shared by many, who are waiting to hear your call to action. I urge you to rise to the extreme challenge of this most worthwhile endeavor, to join with others to leave the world a better place than you found it. (Views So Far 208 )

Government Is NOT The Private Sector, and It's Time We Acted Accordingly | CustomerThink - by Robert Bacal
Commentary by Robert Bacal that suggests governments should NOT be looking to what the private sector is doing in customer service, because the public sector context is SO different. (Views So Far 198 )


Customer Advisory Boards (5)
Customer advisory boards are semi-permanent panels organizations can use to have ongoing input and feedback about products, services, etc. Learn more from the material in this section.
Customer Communities (33)
Customer communities are becoming more common so that governments can listen to, and also communicate with stakeholders, taxpayers, etc. The task of creating online communities is not so simple. Here's advice, tips and case studies.
Customer Engagement (9)
Customer engagement (CE) may make sense for private companies looking to enhance profit, but does it make sense for governments to increase customer engagement? Is there a point?
What Is Government Doing (3)
Find out what various government departments and agencies are doing to improve the service they offer to citizens. Cases, examples, what works, and what doesn't.

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