Hot on the heels of another confidence-breaking government shutdown threat the rollout of the Affordable Care Act has grabbed the media’s short attention span.  While we still have the spotlight, here are a few customer experience lessons for the government.


For the legislative branch…

  • Remember who your customers are – Congress has clearly lost its way.  The practical realities of running campaigns and winning re-election mean that politicians think their customers are the moneyed special interest groups that fill their coffers and re-election war chests.   In fact they were elected to represent the people.  Perhaps you will find this infographic as concerning as I do (thanks to Brian Boyko for sharing).

For the executive branch…

  • Manage expectations – In President Obama’s October 1 remarks he said that signing up for the Affordable Care Act would occur like “you’d shop for a plane ticket on Kayak”.  It hasn’t been so far.  Setting the expectations high for this project, which no one had ever attempted, was ambitious.  We would have fared better if expecations were more moderate.  Now, many people are left with the bitter taste of a shaky rollout.  (Another example here… Customer Service Government Style – That Was Easy!)
  • Execution skills matter – I subscribe to Jamie Dimon’s view which he articulated as “I’d rather have a first-rate execution and second-rate strategy any time than a brilliant idea and mediocre management.”  (See an opposing view in this 2010 HBR article “The Execution Trap.”)  The two ideas shouldn’t necessarily be in opposition to one another.  I merely point out that governments, politicians, and companies spend far more resources saying what they’ll do instead of doing what they said.

These lessons are clearly on display as we watch the government struggle.  That they apply equally well to businesses of all sizes should be a lesson to us all.  The pivot point is to keep your goal and those of your customers clearly in front of you and to execute, execute, execute.  Anything less is just hoping for success.

(More) CX Lessons for the US Government
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