Contrary to popular belief, government customer service is onpar with the private sector, according to a research reportreleased last week by global management consulting companyAccenture Inc.
The perception is not always the reality, as is the case withthe public’s view of government service delivery versus the privatesector, said Alden Cuddihey, a partner in Accenture’s Canadiangovernment practice.
Governments are on par with the best of the private sector interms of delivering services online, yet interestingly there is aperception issue among some citizens that government isn’t doing aswell as the private sector, and it is a perception, he said.
“Research revealed multiple examples of governments doing somereally leading-edge things,” he said. “One of the things we talkabout in our report is there are limitations to where governmentcan get to, in terms of moving services online without looking atall of the channels of interaction.”
One of the report’s key recommendations was that there is anopportunity for government to use the online channel to betterreach their customers, to make governments more relevant tocustomers.
Cuddihey cited that in Finland when citizens pull up to aparking meter they can use their cell phone to check in and out,only pay for what they use, and there’s no danger of the meterrunning out.
“I think the number of service delivery channels is only rising,that creates more complexity, but it’s another way for governmentsto reach out to citizens, understand what they need, and providethe services that needed now and in the future,” he said.
The report noted that leading governments are putting the customback into customer service and are not just using aone-size-fits-all approach.
As for how the customer service in government issues variesacross the global scale, Cuddihey said the countries that have beenleaders have a different vantage point.
“They understand what they can do with e-government,” he said.”Canada is a model here, because it spends so much time surveyingwhat citizens want.
“(Leading countries) understand that leadership and customerservice isn’t just delivering services on a program-by-programbasis.”
He added it’s where the citizen can come to the government,explain their circumstances be it online, over the phone, or inperson, and have governments offer them the services that areavailable to them.
“In other words you have to create a single view of the citizen,which the private sector has done years ago to deliver services tocustomers.”
Service Canada is a good example of where government isorganizing itself around its citizen, as opposed to beinggovernment-centric, according to Cuddihey.
“It’s a real challenge to move to that citizen-centredview.”