Newsflash!  The White House has consulted with industry leaders to help government improve its ability to deliver customer service.  I’ll generally endorse any efforts to improve service but forgive my skepticism regarding the White House’s chances of success. 

As a monopoly, they have little incentive to deliver customer service.  Here’s what’s missing:

  1. Competition – We the people, can’t switch governments if we don’t get good customer service.  Without competition, what compels any company to deliver the type of service people want/need?
  2. Culture of Change – With no competition, market forces are meaningless so a monopoly favors the status quo.   Monopolies encourage inertia, not innovation.
  3. Accountability – If a battery bomber can walk onboard an airplane and no one is held responsible for the security failures who will be held accountable for poor customer service?  And if no one is accountable, who will sponsor and drive the change?
  4. Extrinsic Rewards – Even on the off chance a customer-centric culture takes root, the government, in its quest for ultimate equality, has its hands tied when it comes to rewarding excellent performance.

As encouraging as it is to learn that the government wants to deliver better customer service, you’ve got to conclude that this initiative isn’t likely to garner results.  Too bad really.  Indirectly, we all pay for the poor service.  And now we’re paying for the analysis, studies, position papers, etc.  Since the government’s track record in tackling big issues is so mixed, what makes us think they’ll handle customer service any better?

The pivot point is simple – competition improves customer service.   And even if the government does figure out how to improve service it still won’t make our annual pilgrimage to the altar of the IRS to file our tax returns a better experience.

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