For too long, government has felt comfortable behind the shield that it is a monopoly. But today, if government can’t prove it’s useful, it will face continuing challenges to its authority and purpose.

Over the years, when I have proposed making it easier for citizens to do things on the web with government, I have been met with a generally lukewarm response.

“They have no choice. They have to use us,” is often the reply. The government employees who have said this to me have not usually said it in an arrogant or contemptuous way. They merely said it in a matter of fact sort of way.

We see around the world the collapse in trust in the system of government. People think that government is not working nearly as well as it should. People feel that where government works best is for the bankers or other special interests, who seem to have incredible influence.

If government doesn’t focus on the customer experience then the function and role of government will be relentlessly questioned. The digital footprint of government will shrink as citizens go to other sources to quickly and easily find the information they need. Amazon Alexa or Google will be the place people go to find answers to questions they used to go to government websites for.

Government may end up as simply data providers to third-party service providers. Maybe that’s OK. Maybe not. These service providers are there to make a profit. Will they give citizens truly objective advice, or will they nudge them in the direction of the most profitable option to the service provider?

Government has a tremendous resource in data and services. But unless these data and services are easy to find and use, they lose a huge part of their value. If government wastes a citizen’s or a business person’s time, then it undermines confidence and trust. If people can’t quickly and easily complete the tasks they need to complete with government, then government is diminished in the eyes of these people. “What good is government?” they ask.

Learning Opportunities

The measure of customer experience is relatively simple. Was the customer successful in completing the task they came to complete? How long did it take them? Great customer experience is about maximizing task completion and minimizing time-on-task.

Why is this so difficult for government? Because government thinks like and operates like a monopoly. Government is obsessed with itself. Government thinks it is the center of the universe. Monopolistic culture is the essence of government. Some governments recognize this toxic culture and are trying to change.

To change this monopolistic culture we must shift the reward metrics. Right now, government employees are rewarded based on output. How much have they produced, whether that involves producing policies, content or websites? It’s all about production, output. It’s all about measuring the organization.

Customer experience is about measuring customer outcomes. This is hugely, hugely culturally difficult for government employees. To measure your success based on the success of the customer is such an alien concept within most governments. But it is the path to the future. It is the road to success. Maximizing customer experience must be the number one objective of government when it comes to digital transformation.

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