During a recent discussion of the Age of the Customer and how it applies to government, one of the participants from a government agency essentially asked why they should care. The argument was “If I’m providing passport services why does customer experience matter to me? My “customers” can’t walk out that door and find another passport services provider.”

Needless to say I was taken aback – not shocked really, this is the government after all and not traditionally known for accessible or user friendly services. But personally my experiences have never been as bad as the stereotype of government. In fact, I just received a new passport in 2 weeks, having been told that it might take 3 – 6 weeks. And, at least the rhetoric of late has certainly embraced, in principle, more customer centricity in government. But here it was, the government monopoly argument rearing its ugly head. At least to play devil’s advocate, suggesting that the sentiment did exist somewhere in the organization.

In the commercial world, customers can take their business elsewhere. With government, citizens do have some recourse. They can vote to “kick the rascals out” or in some cases vote with their feet – like we’re seeing these days with the increase in Google searches for how to immigrate to Canada before the next US election. In case you are wondering, one option is the new dating website, MapleMatch, where Americans can look for a cross-border, Canadian mate. But seriously, most governments do recognize that improving services is important to attracting citizens, businesses and investment.

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via Forrester Blogs Jennifer Belissent, Ph.D.