Recently, I’ve observed lots of conversation in the media on how to make your business “customer-centric,” case in point here, here and here. I find it interesting that missing from this discussion is acknowledgement that government agencies are becoming more customer-centric as well. This hole in the conversation is striking considering there’s been a significant shift towards this exact concept in health and human services agencies. Many government agencies are now providing customer service on par with any leading edge privately held company.
The new service delivery model for health and human services is responsive to customer needs and responsible for efficient customer service – this may sound familiar to you because it’s similar to the philosophies of many highly reputable and successful private companies such as Amazon and Nordstrom. For instance, many agencies are redesigning lobbies and appointment management tools, reorganizing workflow systems and implementing electronic signature and automatic client contact methods. These new tools make it easier for clients to access needed services quickly. Additionally, these tools provide agency management with more accurate visibility into staffing and operation of the organization.
As leaders in the private sector continue to discuss the characteristics of customer-centric business, I encourage those leaders to include government agencies in the discussion. In many ways, some government agencies are outperforming their private sector counter-parts when it comes to customer satisfaction. Think about it this way: I’ve spent hours waiting at the Apple Store for a technician to repair my iPhone. But, I know for certain that such waits do not occur at many California Health and Human Services agencies because of the highly efficient appointment processing systems.