As resources are cut and demands increase are we losing something with our public sector customer services?
by Kate Bentham
Anyone who works in local government works with customers. You might not call them customers. You may call them clients, service users, or in the words of Daniel Blake, citizens. Your customers may even be internal and so you may call them colleagues.
It doesn’t really matter who they are or what you call them. What really matters is the way in which we treat them, respond to them, and to help them. That’s the reason I got into local government over 16 years ago. I wanted to help people.
With the increased pressure on limited resources, we’re all expected to do more for less, or do less with less.
Something I’ve noticed over the last few months, is the impact of doing less with less is having on the customer experience. It seems that good enough is now enough, and that doesn’t sit right.
I question if it’s good enough to only give a customer the information they have asked for. Nothing more. Nothing less. It can easily be argued that the job’s been done. The customer experience is positive. The customer got what they came for and customer satisfaction is likely to be good. So why isn’t that enough?
To me, it’s not good customer service? Especially when:-
· You know there is more that you can do.
· You know that there is more information the customer would benefit from.
· You know that it would mean the customer wouldn’t have to contact you again about that subject in the future.
· You know that you could, in the long run, save time and money for the service and the customer.
With good enough customer service, yes we’re helping, but we’re only helping to a limit. We’re not helping above and beyond. We’re not enhancing that customer experience, making every contact count, adding value. We’re holding back information and as such the customer is missing out on opportunities.
Resources in local government may have changed but when did our values and principles around customer service? When did the driver change from striving for excellence to good enough? The business case is there for beyond good enough customer services but for me it’s more than a business case, it’s about duty.
Kate Bentham is co-organiser of commscamp and works in the public sector.
Picture credit: Llyfrgell Genedlaethol Cymru / Flickr.