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What the U.S. Government Could Learn About Customer Service

How key customer service business practices could help bolster the Federal brand

November 5, 2012 By Paul Logan
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We are down to the final days leading up to the election, and we all can't wait for it to be over. While Americans may differ on the role of government in our society, we can likely agree on one thing: When we interact with our government, we want a positive customer experience.

According to Forrester Research, customer experience is defined as how customers perceive their interactions with an organization. Interactions include in-store visits, Website navigations, email exchanges, buying and using products or services, and discussions with customer service representatives. These exchanges are where customers make judgments about the organization. Companies that deliver positive experiences derive more loyalty from their customers, attract new customers through positive word-of-mouth chatter, and save money, which is critical to any business operating in today's challenging economy.

While government doesn't compete for customers like a typical retailer, it does compete for the hearts and minds of its citizens. Creating positive "customer" interactions with government agencies and representatives could be a great way to promote a perception that it is doing a good job.

Currently politicians' approval ratings are slumping, and for many Americans the idea of interacting with the government conjures up images of lengthy waits, inefficiency and less-than-cheery outcomes. However, we pay taxes to support government services and we should expect a positive and fulfilling experience when we interact with representatives at their brick and mortar office locations, government phone customer service, websites, etc. Consider: When was the last time a government agent asked you to rate the service the agency provided? 

As leaders try to convince Americans to get on board with their policy proposals for the next Congress, improving the customer experience with government could help. Here are a few business-proven ways the US government could begin improving that experience today:

1. Personalization Makes People Feel Connected
From our double mocha, half-caf, non-fat lattes to personalized logos for family stationary to customized news and suggested shopping items online—Americans are nuts about personalization and expect it in everything they do. New technology has made personalized communication possible and affordable when it is delivered through the right methods. Data programs have made it possible to predict what it is that people need before they say it. The government should be better at analyzing critical data to help personalize communications to citizens as a means to improve the experience with government.

 

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