Do the Service – Earn the Image

Two recent articles jumped out at me this week. The first is an article in Government Executive Magazine summarizing the results of a recent Gallup poll on citizens’ satisfaction with their government. They aren’t. The second was a blog piece by Alex Hawkinson on Social Media Today: “Why Customer Service Is the New Marketing.” OK. Let’s connect the dots.

Citizens aren’t happy with their government. Why? “The poll found that the most important factor in the public’s satisfaction is an agency’s ability to resolve problems reasonably. Other categories included, ‘Willing to work with me,’ and ‘Delivers on promises.’” In other words, the public wants better customer service. Though the article didn’t go on to define what that means, I’m guessing they want to find government services easily. They want straight answers when they ask questions. They want government to listen to them and react to what they’re saying in a personal way. They want to understand what the government says back, so they can use it to fix their problems. They want government to follow through – in a timely way. They want the government to be reasonable. That means reasonable from a citizen’s point of view – not government’s point of view.

So government has a bad image with the public, at least according to this poll. Hopefully, it wants to improve that image. How do you do that? Hawkinson nails it. If you want to promote yourself, then provide great customer service. You start with the great customer service. You earn the image. You don’t earn the image by trumpeting how great you are. You earn it by being great. Period.

Oh – by the way…according to the Gallup poll (and this is in line with what other polls have found), the number one way citizens interact with government is through the internet. That would be a good place to start.

One day, this will sink in. One day, some one or some group at a high enough level in government to make it happen is going to say, “OK – we get it, we care, and we’re going to do something about it.”

Please, oh please – do!

Related posts:
It’s Time for a Citizen Services Summit
Reality Bites
News Flash! Government Websites Are Not Newspapers!

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Bernie Lubran

As you know, our company has been measuring citizen satisfaction with federal government websites for going on 9 years. Our findings are not dissimilar from the two reports that you site. If there is some good news, it is that citizens are engaging more and more with government through the Internet and citizens are finding the online experience to be more satisfying that other channels and getting better. An excellent example that I always talk about is the IRS and how much better citizens like the process of filing their tax returns online versus the paper method (whether or not you enjoy paying taxes of course is another matter). It speaks volumes about the need to make more and more services available to citizens online. The Social Security Administration is another agency that has learned that lesson.