Clearly, I am late joining this conversation and there are a lot of excellent perspectives that have been shared but here is my two cents:
From a practical, functional perspective, communications is a need that exists and must be performed well in order to have effective citizen engagement and/or customer service. However, from an organizational perspective, it appears to me that it will take some more time before organizations, whether in government or in the private sector, will have evolved to full integration of the three.
In relatively recent years, there has been conversation around “the customer experience” or sometimes “the total customer experience”, which is used as a broad term to encompass everything that influences a customers’ perception of the organization from the time s/he first “notices” the organization (which can be from any source, including social media) following through the entire customer “relationship” with an organization, or the organization is no longer on the individual’s “radar screen”.
IMHO, until organizations have a czar of the customer experience – maybe something like CCEO (Chief Customer Experience Officer) – there will not be an organizationally consolidated or centralized place to go to be sure you reach all the “interested” (or potentially interested , or those who should be interested) portions of the organization who care about communications, customer engagement and/or customer service. From a practical, functional perspective, organizations will likely to continue feel the need to have functional areas such as Public Affairs/Communications, Customer Service (or Servicing) and a centralized point for all customer (as well as non-customer) “conversations”/engagement to be managed.
In government, as I am sure we all realize, the challenge is particularly steep since there are so many “towers of excellence” aka silos!
While it may be tempting to try to create a one-size-fits-all name that encompasses the communications, citizen engagement and customer service interests, the issue is that you will capture the interest of a few of the more enlightened folks who do see these three as integrated, but there are still a great deal of traditional folks who are doing good things and working hard to foster great communications, customer service and citizen engagement but who are either stymied by how their organization is structured or by those above them in the organization who don’t “get it”.
I am not suggesting “customer experience” or “total customer experience” as the “new” phrase to encapsulate the areas of communications, customer service and customer engagement – organizationally, government is not there yet (and this seems to be true in much of the private sector as well) – but perhaps there is a bridge phrase that will help keep the idea moving forward, bringing along those who haven’t embraced the whole perspective yet while still enabling/encouraging or supporting those get that the three are unequivocably intertwined. Perhaps an approach would be to use a key term as the name with a tag line that engenders the total customer experience concept. I am certainly NOT a creative type but I toss out this as a way to get others to offer better ideas – especially shorter names/tag lines:
Customer Experience Management
Engaging, informing & servicing customers
I am looking forward to seeing how this conversation evolves!