Believe it or not, there's a big business today that exists trying to improve something that sounds like a bad oxymoron—that is customer service in government. At all levels of government—and indeed all around the world—there is a whole lot of interest among those who lead government agencies and a ready cadre of small and larger consulting and training firms out there who are willing and eager to work with the public sector to try and improve the delivery, speed, and efficiency of government services for constituents. Yes, citizens are customers!
Ah, the end of the semester! As a "seasoned" professor with over 25 years experience working in the higher education industrial complex, this is always the busiest, most hectic, most stressful time of the year—both for college students and for their instructors. Though I'm far removed from that scene personally, I always like to draw the comparison to closing time at the bar....bringing to mind some wisdom from the classic song, "Closing Time," that is now—wow!—two decades old from the group, Semisonic:
How many times have we seen it happen in just the span of our own lives? How many times have we seen the stuff of science fiction come to life? How many times have we seen characters in a movie from two decades ago, a decade ago, or heck, even two to three years before do something that was futuristic then but is commonplace today? How many times have we been watching a TV show from a decade or two ago and get frustrated at the plot and yell out, "Why doesn't he just send her a text already!"
We all see them around and have them in our organizations. They are the ones who haul around their five-pound company-issued laptop. They are the ones still using a Blackberry—or worse, a flip phone! They are the ones who insist on doing the paper contract, rather than gathering all the digital signatures. They are the ones who insist on flying everyone into Cleveland for a meeting in the middle of winter, rather than conducting a video conference to accomplish the same task.
This is the kind of story that gives top executives of any service-oriented business today nightmares! In our age of social media, it only takes one story, one post, one video, or one picture to possibly sink your business! One bad customer interaction or one disgruntled employee's action can become a viral video in an instant. Literally, this can place your business—no matter the industry, no matter the size, no matter the location, no matter of anything—instantly on the defensive, and if that story doesn't kill your business, it could well cripple it or at least make a huge dent in the firm's top and bottom lines. And that damage can be lasting for an indeterminate amount of time in the consumer mins. Indeed, there will be some consumers that you may never be able to reach after one of these incidents.