I realize that for many of the general public, the phrase “Government Customer Service” may seem like another amusing oxymoron, like Jumbo Shrimp or a Friendly Argument.

Customer service is typically relegated to commercial enterprises that have a vested interested in gaining or keeping customers, such as airlines and retailers.

With commercial companies, customers can vote with their wallets-few commercial enterprises have a complete monopoly on products and services in the modern world. It’s easy to find correlation between a company’s overall financial performance and its customer service marks. The marketplace is increasingly competitive, and with consumer dollars scarce and with many more goods and services vying to keep or increase their share of the customers’ wallets, customer service can be a primary differentiator.

The role of customer service in government agencies
Government agencies have different drivers. If you are on hold for three hours to get a question answered so you can file your taxes on time, you can’t exactly take your tax business to another agency that is more responsive.

So why is good government customer service so important?  The simple answer is that government customer service is one of the few technological environments where automation and efficiency gains can provide cost-savings to government agencies in a time where all budgets are under the microscope. And, it can also give citizens a dramatically streamlined service experience that saves them time and effort, improving their perception of their government at work.

How can good government customer service provide all of those benefits?  In nearly every case, citizens’ primary interaction with a government agency is through a customer service system: a web page, service lobby or phone call.

By integrating all of these channels into a seamless system with consistency and efficiency of service delivery, a government agency can realize significant staff and system efficiencies and dramatically lower costs without affecting staffing levels.

Integration and automation of service systems also helps citizens find the information they need and resolve problems faster. Commercial enterprises deploy these solutions across the globe to keep and retain their customer base; government agencies can look to these examples to create better and easier ways to serve their citizens and ultimately provide better governance to those they serve.

Putting the focus on government customer service
This is the first in a regular series on Government Customer Service. In future posts I’ll get into more detail on good government customer service-why it is so critical to have integrated customer service systems, what it involves, who should be involved in the planning and decision process, and good examples across the globe of government agencies that are already well on this path.

I hope you’ll participate with me and share you thoughts as well. Thank you, and good governing. In the meantime, read more about Genesys solutions for Government here.