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Legislating Customer Service

You don't talk to very many people these days who are counting down the days until their driver's license expires so that they can make a trip to the DMV. Nor do people wait with bated breath for the chance to interact with TSA at airport security. The reason is simple: these groups aren't well known for delivering a high-quality customer experience.

The fact is, if you want to drive in your state of residence, or fly the friendly skies, there is only one group that can make it possible. When you're working with government agencies, it's not like buying any consumer good where in some cases you have hundreds of companies with which to potentially do business. As a result, there has been little attention given to the customer service experience citizens have when working with the government. Until now.

U.S. Sens. Mark R. Warner (D-VA) and Ron Johnson (R-WI) want to change the customer service experience that people have with government agencies through their recently introduced legislation, the Government Customer Service Improvement Act of 2012. The proposed legislation will, "require the Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to work with federal agencies to develop specific customer service standards, require each agency to designate a Service Improvement Officer responsible for monitoring progress, and require annual reporting on customer service results by agency."

While I doubt that anyone would object to a better customer experience when working with government agencies, I think this legislation comes at a very interesting time. As Peppers & Rogers have long said, "Customer experience is now the battleground for competitive advantage." Companies around the globe are trying to figure out how they can differentiate through the customer experience, and find a way to gain and retain customers. The fact that this extends to groups without any competition (i.e. the government) shows just how important it is in today's environment, and how much stock today's consumers put in customer experience. 

We'll be hearing at ICUC this year from Joseph A. Michelli, Ph.D, author of the Zappos Experience, about how world-class companies deliver outstanding, differentiating customer experience. The timing couldn't be better as this becomes an important strategic advantage. 

Photo Credit: Carolina K. Smith, M.D. / Shutterstock.com

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