When a buyer has a negative customer experience, what are their options? Most obviously, they can choose to simply stop doing business with the company. Beyond that, they have the option to take their grievance to the company itself, hoping for a favorable resolution. Unhappy customers may also post negative reviews for the company in question, hoping to warn other prospective buyers away from doing business with them.
Now, what about the citizen who has a negative experience with their government? What recourse do they have? Short of expatriating, a citizen really can’t ‘take their business elsewhere.’ As a result, many government institutions have developed something of a monopoly mentality where citizen interaction is concerned. After all, why worry about going the extra mile for citizens when they literally have nowhere else to go? Additionally, those who try to resolve issues often run into ineffective service and communication channels, or are bluntly rebuffed.
It’s no coincidence that DMVs and other government agencies have become synonymous with poor service. Long wait times, unhelpful representatives, and limited hours of operation lead to disengaged citizens, and even for those agencies that offer superior service, the negative stereotype is difficult to overcome. As a result, 68% of Americans say that they prefer dealing with private companies over government agencies, because companies resolve customer service issues more quickly, care more about people as customers, and provide better communication options.
To overcome this stigma, governments need to focus on improving their communication options as well as their service. Today’s citizen is an online citizen, and government institutions that take advantage of online media will be more capable of engaging their citizens in a positive way. New digital tools are making this possible.