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Something to Think About: Feedback Government

The views expressed are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect the views of ASPA as an organization.

By Yash Acharya
April 28, 2017

Scenario:

Wouldn’t it be awesome to have customer rating services like Yelp for the government sector? Here’s why I pose the question:

I was visiting my cousin recently and I accompanied him to the motor vehicles department so he could renew his driver’s license. It was a long, painful, largely broken process. It took more than two hours to complete the process of providing documentation, getting it reviewed and approved and finally, obtaining the new license.

When I asked the motor vehicles department’s local manager how I could provide some feedback, he directed me to a helpline, where I spent more than an hour waiting for a customer service representative to pick-up my call and log the complaint. I asked if my complaint would reach the local manager and what action would be taken. The representative indicated my complaint would be logged in their system and I would receive a paper notice acknowledging my complaint and a response within 60 days. I’m still waiting.

My example is just one case. Anyone who has visited government agencies to obtain permits, benefits, licenses, etc. probably experienced a similarly inefficient process with long lines and frustration.

In my February 2017 article, I had talked about how a government could be consumer friendly. The above incident got me thinking. It seems to me government agencies could:

  • Provide a feedback portal for every service they provide;
  • Ask customers to rate the service they receive based on a five star rating system;
  • Let customers view and respond to feedback and comments;
  • Reward agency staff based on the feedback; and,
  • Report service improvements tied to customer feedback.

Feedback Government

When we buy products from a company or on a website such as Amazon, we have an opportunity to provide feedback on the product or the service. Websites also allow us to provide feedback on everything from restaurants to plumbers to home remodelers.

Depending on the design of these websites, customers or viewers can post feedback, rate the product or service, provide comments or even request response to their comments. This reduces dependence on customer service centers.

The private sector, being a for profit entity, is focused on feedback to improve to better compete in the market place. The public sector, on the other hand, is focused more on expanding services to help the customers. Their focus is to comply with and meet the service requirements set by the program. Some of the processes that have been developed under these requirements are dated and could be vastly improved with technology.

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Something to think about

Technology is giving government agencies the opportunity to share processes, information and data and to group certain sets of services that can make life easier for consumers – like what e-commerce sites can do today.

For example, if you applied the capability of the e-commerce websites like Amazon to government agency portals, consumers would be able to easily search for the service they received and where they received it and then provide feedback and a rating.

Using this feedback, agency leaders could set goals for process or service improvements and periodically report on progress in “health of the department” reports. Agencies can improve their operations if they collect feedback, acknowledge and review it, and respond in a timely fashion.

Being a technologist, I know this is more complex than it sounds. However, with the advent of self-service systems for various services such as licensing, permitting, housing, etc., I believe agencies must seek feedback in order to improve their services and more importantly, the customer experience. I believe that for every new system or solution that a department undertakes, it should be designed to be customer focused and to allow for feedback. Agencies should ask, “How can we make this system or process easy – so that a consumer can provide feedback on the service they received in minutes?”

Something to think about!!


Author: CreativeTechNerdie – Yash Acharya is a director within KPMG LLP’s State and Local Government Practice, with a focus on assisting governments with business transformation initiatives. Thinker, coffee fanatic and government transformation passionist. Yash’ s column shares innovative ideas, thoughts and real world challenges for government, companies and the public to think about where we want to go next. Views expressed are his own.

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The American Society for Public Administration is the largest and most prominent professional association for public administration. It is dedicated to advancing the art, science, teaching and practice of public and non-profit administration.

2 Responses to Something to Think About: Feedback Government

  1. Geoffrey McLennan Reply

    April 30, 2017 at 12:53 am

    Why not rate govt agencies with a letter grade both online and at each director’s office door?

  2. Luv Bhatt Reply

    April 29, 2017 at 4:10 am

    Good stuff, I think if this happens it will put more trust into government sector.

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