A government is put into power by the people and is supposed to serve and be the voice of its citizens. Thus, it comes as no surprise that as part of the 2015 federal budget, President Obama made it a goal for the government to deliver “world-class customer service for citizens”. To put his words into action, $100 million has been pledged to the Social Security Administration to significantly improve both its internet and in-person services.
As businesses in the private sector continue to place greater importance towards improving their customer support, average Americans are starting to increase their expectations on how services should be delivered by the government. Pampered by efficient and proactive customer support, they’re beginning to realize the large disparity between the quality of support in the public and private sectors.
Why should governments care? After all, it’s not as though their livelihood depends on customer’s satisfaction, right? However, customer service does matter to governments, even if leads, conversions and revenue maximization don’t come into play. Here are 4 reasons why.
1: Better Customer Service Benefits Everyone
In the private sector, customer service is a top priority because unhappy customers tend to purchase less or churn—resulting in significant revenue loss. In government, bad customer service results in frustration when trying to obtain information.
When citizens are frustrated, they sometimes give up on accomplishing important tasks, like filing their taxes or paying their bills, simply because it is too difficult to obtain the necessary information. The government then wastes resources by having to single out these individuals.
Setting up an efficient and capable customer service team will help prevent these problems by providing citizens with information they need, when they need it. It boosts productivity and compliance when processes are simple and help is readily available.
2: Winning The Popular Vote
Happier customers are, less likely to end their relationship with your business. It works the same way for governments. However, Forrester’s survey of the US government revealed that customer services experiences with the government left citizens feeling unimportant.
Providing great customer service might just be the key to winning over the popular vote. Being responsive and timely in providing help makes citizens feel as though you’re dedicated to fulfilling their needs and are always there to hear them out.
On the flipside, being arrogant and anti-customer breeds competition. Just take a look at US Postal Services and the number of customers who are abandoning them for alternatives like UPS and FedEx. Truth is, if you aren’t willing to take the time and effort to satisfy your citizens, the less likely they are to vote for you when the time comes.
3: Greater Workforce Productivity
If one of the main goals of the government is to boost the long-term growth of a nation, then maintaining (or increasing) productivity rates is crucial. Good customer service can help achieve this by ensuring that no one has to spend hours trying to figure out how to file their tax returns.
According to Bloomberg, the IRS will only be able to answer half of the incoming phone calls they receive this year. Those who don’t get through can expect to be put on hold for a minimum of 30 minutes — and even after they get to speak to an agent, only the most basic questions will be answered.
Fulfilling your commitments as a citizen, is already challenging and time consuming, without the need to add poor customer service into the mix.
4: Attracting Investments
In 2014, Singapore’s Foreign Direct Investments was 30% of its GDP. Investments play an integral role in helping economic growth and investors are usually attracted to countries with efficient and stable government systems.
Good customer service can help attract investments by reducing the cost of business. Monetary costs aside, reducing the time needed for business to obtain information required during investments can save them up to 600 hours a year.
Citizens are shareholders of the country and its government. Thus, governments should prioritize great customer service. Indeed, high quality customer service is an indicator of a well-performing government.