Monday, August 29, 2011

Let's Start A Customer Service Revolution!

No – that’s not the leftovers from Hurricane Irene.  Those are the Winds of Change you’re feeling.  The pieces for building an exciting new vision of government customer service are swirling around us - do you see them?  Everything’s starting to converge…ideas, leadership, support from the top. We’re on the verge of a customer service revolution!

Look around: 
  • We have a President who “gets it” that it’s hard for customers to use our services when they have to hop all over government because related programs/functions are distributed across agencies.  His Customer Service initiative shows this Administration’s commitment to improving the way government serves citizens.
  • The .Gov Reform Task Force is focusing high level attention on roping in the renegades of U.S. government websites.  Government web managers and CIOs and new media specialists and OMB leaders and White House staff, with terrific support from GSA, are working together to chart a new course for web-based customer service. 
  • What's more, everyone's welcome to join this conversation (revolutions must be inclusive!)  The .Gov Reform Task Force is open to ideas from anyone, anywhere.  Good customer service strategies start with the customers, and that’s exactly what they’re trying to do.
  • Even the .Gov Reform surveys (that agencies are completing now) show “big think.”  The Task Force is collecting data not only about the URLs and topics and audiences of the way-too-many government websites, but also about web governance…data that can help us understand where it’s working and where it isn’t, so we can make service  better across government.
  • Great ideas are reaching critical mass.  Thought leaders and visionaries, like John Kamensky and Wendi Brick, are blogging about “virtual government” and forming communities of interest around customer service.   People inside and outside government are coming together – like GovLoop’s Symposium on Customer Service – to talk about serving better, faster, smarter. 
  • is leading by example by becoming a place where customers can get answers, rather than just referrals through links.  The team is creating content, based on information from multiple agencies, around important topics (check out “Consumer Protection,” for example), giving customers a single starting point.
  • Newly-created reflects prevailing thought that we need to blend customer service channels, to make sure customers get the same answers no matter how they ask:  web, phone, in person, publication.
  • The Plain Writing Act is forcing agencies to change the way they communicate with customers, using their words and organizing content in ways that make sense to them. 
In the next few months, we have a window of opportunity.  Through the .Gov Reform effort and the Customer Service Initiative, we can create a clear, bold strategic vision for customer service in government. This is how customer service should look and work:  customer-centered, rather than agency-centered; multi-channel, rather than a channel-by-channel; one stop, instead of a scavenger hunt; responsive and personal, instead of detached; a priority for government employees, rather than an after-thought.  And we can build standards and governance that will help us achieve this vision.

The pieces are all there.  If not now, when?  Let’s start a customer service revolution. 

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1 comment:

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