Public Sector CRM Strategy Considerations

Citizens are expecting more out of their interactions with governmental entities. Advances in the quality of services provided by the competitive private sector has raised expectations when dealing with governmental entities. Service consumers expect to be served through multiple channels with ever-shortening durations. They are expecting private sector like experiences when dealing with the public sector. All too often they are let down by the reality.

Across the globe, in an attempt to bridge the gap between public and private sector customer experiences many public sector entities have resorted to organizational wide CRM implementations. Due to the differences in landscape and scope, there are distinctions that should be accounted for when developing a public sector CRM strategy or CiRM (Citizen Relationship management) as commonly called in the public sector.

Companies using CRM benchmark themselves against industry competitors with the aim of surpassing their competitor in terms of customer satisfaction. In comparison, governmental entities, are monopolies – they are the only player in their sector and they must serve a vast population.

Companies usually deal with thousands or millions of customers in the most extreme cases. A government entities’ activities are not constrained as in the private sector. They serve much larger numbers and have a wider mandate. This subtlety is key when sizing infrastructure, designing services and process flows. Serving millions of customers in a monopoly suppresses the ability to focus on a specific customer segment.

Lack of clearly defined customer segments means that unlike companies, which are able to weed out unprofitable customers, governments have to keep serving every person who interacts with them. Special processes have to be implemented to deal with difficult customers whilst streamlining them within the processes that service the general population. The inability to terminate relations with customers stems from the fundamental nature of the government mandate.

Companies aim to provide their services to maximize revenue and profits, whereas governmental entities are operating out of jurisdiction and duty. They have roles to fulfil in order to ensure function, quality of life and general processes. This affects their operating budget, spend, hiring and ultimately the CRM components selected.

Salaries and compensation offered in the public sector are generally less attractive than those offered in the private sector. This pay disparity leads to low attraction and retention of qualified staff. This leads to operating underperformance and in turn customer experience underperformance. A key consideration when designing a government CiRM system is to design the simplest and easiest to follow process flows covering all business functions needed.

Those who disagree with the distinctions between public and private sector CRM argue that their implementation strategies are similar. This understanding is false. Although their execution may be similar, public and private sector CRM strategies are derived from very different business foundations, operating models, customer segmentation strategies and industry landscapes.

The use of CRM in the public sector is an affordable way to reduce costs, streamline processes, maintain and enrich client centric relationships between governments and citizens.  It is for this reason that CiRM solutions are quickly being adopted as the standard way to interact with citizens.

– Joseph Khair El Kareh

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