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A New Wave of Federal Customer Service

The customer is always right. Right? Well, that may not always be correct, but it is a good rule of thumb to follow. However, I think most of us tend to associate this golden rule with the private sector. But now, there seems to be more of a push from the public sector to better their customer service, and at the very minimum, to provide “good” customer service.

Greg Pellegrino is the Customer Strategy Expert with Deloitte Consulting. In other words, he is a federal customer service specialist – with a focus on bettering customer service practices within the federal government.

Pellegrino discussed some findings about customer service with Chris Dorobek on GovLoop’s DorobekINSIDER.

The Government Business Council recently published their findings, The Path to Customer-Centric Service: A Candid Survey of Federal Managers, underwritten by Deloitte Digital. Here, they found that “Only 47% of respondents agree or strongly agree that their organization does a good job of soliciting customer feedback.”

So how can we begin to understand why govies have a negative view of agency customer service? Pellegrino noted agencies have to take into account the difficulties that inherently lie in trying to keep up with changes in consumer’s wants and needs. In other words, he explained that we have to realize that “expectations have continued to increase in terms of consumers, and that impacts government…we’re seeing now that that gap has increased between consumer expectations and perception of government service to the point where we’re now facing a multiyear decline in public perception of how well the federal government is doing.”

Another potential issue the government faces is the transition into the digital era of customer service. Pellegrino admits that there has been some benign neglect via “terms of investment in technologies and the type of training necessary to arm the federal workforce to really deliver reflective service.”

On a positive note, the federal government will soon begin to catch up with the digital era by utilizing Yelp to help track and receive feedback, from the public, about their customer service. In turn, this will hold the agency accountable for acting upon those results.

Additionally, Pellegrino advises people to alter their view on customer service. He suggests that we should view this new wave of customer service as a “customer experience”. He explains that customer experience has been proven to be “tangible” and elaborated that “it’s an asset that can be managed and designed.” Plus, he pointed out that this new conversation about customer experience is “emerging among the savviest of leaders here around Washington.”

Pellegrino’s advice for your agency:

  • Explicitly define what the desired customer satisfaction, service, and experience should look like.
  • Repeat the definition throughout the organization.
  • Identify who you are serving.
  • Define who your employees will be interacting with, why they are important to the agency, and, then, link that to the customer experience objective.
  • DO NOT measure (or view) customer satisfaction and performance as a number! Alter your employees to view their job as building a relationship with the respective customer while bettering the “customer experience”.

Pellegrino holds more than 30 years of experience with the federal government and is definitely on the right path to helping government build better relationships with their customers. So, let’s all give it a try! Invest in the technology. Invest in the training for your employees! Better your agencies customer experience by bettering your relationship with your customers!

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