If Government Treated You As Well As Amazon….

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DeliveryI must admit that I am a loyal customer of Amazon. I pay an extra $79 a year to have two-day free delivery of almost everything I buy and I buy quite a bit from them. I get many things the next day. It amazes me just how quickly they can get my order to me!

Another company that amazes me is Google. If I have a question on just about anything I can get many different views on the subject usually within a minute or two.  I can remember in high school and even college spending hours in the library scouring through twenty-four book encyclopedias and many other books to find a minute amount of info I can now get in seconds.

Would you feel better about paying your taxes if our government treated you like Amazon or Google did? I know I certainly would. Most of my interactions with government employees have been strained at best. It seems that they are annoyed to have to deal with me. When our mail man has to deliver a package to the door because he is unable to stuff (and I really mean stuff) it in the mail box he seems to just want to get out of there as quickly as possible so he would not have to talk to us.  I have also had some dealing with State employees where they seemed to lack any flexibility or even understand of my problem at hand much less even want to help me deal with them.

Now don’t get me wrong, there have been instance where it was a pleasure to deal with some government employees. Gib, our first mail person when we moved into our farmhouse spent several minutes welcoming us to the neighborhood and letting us know about the area. Sometimes he would bring the mail to our house just to see how we are doing! Believe it or not our local auto license branch has some very pleasant workers there who never fail to smile when they interact with their customers.

I also don’t want you to get me wrong that all private businesses are better than government ones. I could tell you many stories about store clerks who the idea of actually helping a customer seems very foreign to them. Then there are those who only want to draw their paycheck and little else. There are also the Audix systems my wife absolutely dreads interacting with. Why can’t businesses let us talk to a real person once in a while?

I don’t know what it would take to have customer service like I get from Amazon in a government format. If only someone can figure that out….

But I’m just a simple guy so what do I know….

11 thoughts on “If Government Treated You As Well As Amazon….

  • Considering the size and complexity of the US government, I think they do ok. Altho not frequently, I have had very good experiences with government agencies in the past. Amazon is huge but it runs on a pretty simple concept…brilliant in it’s simplicity. Government will never be that stream lined but they are working on it. Did you know that President Obama last year issued an executive order directing federal agencies to come up with plans to improve customer service? They are aware that we, the customers, expect the same timely and reliable service that we receive from private business. We should expect that budget cuts will impact customer service in the future…so do we want to pay more for added employees or learn to live with less than the ideal? We can’t have it both ways can we?

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  • Good morning Jane, I to believe that they do “ok” but that was not my point. The point is that the private sector almost always does better with interfacing with customers. That is except where market dominance such as monopolies takes customer satisfaction out of the picture.

    I would be terribly surprised if any agency, in government or private sector ,did not have “plans” for improved customer service. When you talk customer service it is not always about not having enough money. In the corporate world I took over a group of engineers that were known for their lack of concern for the customer and turned it around to be one of the best in that area. It didn’t take more people or more money; it just took a change in attitude.

    In the private sector if you don’t treat your customers well they will go to the competition, in the government there is no competition so something else has to drive it. For me that is usually pride in the job and proper management enthusiasm for the customer. Yes, if we gut an agency such as Mr. Ryan proposed in the 2012 budgets then customer service would degrade simply because of not having enough people to do the basic job, but I think you can have it both ways. Up to a certain point it’s mainly a matter of attitude.

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  • First of all…I am Jane…not Janette…you often get us confused. Actually, I remember monopolies such as airlines and phone companies. Customer service was fabulous then. It’s hasn’t been the same since Reagan broke them all up. Competition didn’t improve anything there. I have had plenty of dust-ups with private business regardless of competition. And sweet words on the phone don’t make up for lack of satisfaction with a product or service or an overcharge that only gets resolved…if ever… by repeated complaints. Customer service is not any better in private concerns that it is in government.
    It seems like you may be “looking” for yet another place to complain about government…and there are many to be sure, but this one does not stand out as a big area of concern to me.
    And just think of the “attitude” that the government workers get from the public. I doubt if any other entity takes the same abuse. So, I for one will cut them some slack.
    Anyway, that’s my take on it. Thanks for listening:)

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    • I pulled a fast one on you Jane. Yes I did mistakenly call you Janette but quickly corrected it. 🙂
      Thanks for the additional comments. Yes, I do like to pick on government and I think I generally do a good job on picking on the private sector too. That is generally what WIll Rogers did and so do I. I hope I am not coming across as being “mean” about it. I am just trying to make some general observations.

      Does the private sector always outshine government when it comes to customer satisfaction? NO WAY! As I pointed out there are government agencies that do a super job at it and then there are private sector places that do it miserably.

      I think if you go back and read some of my previous posts you will see that I am an “equal opportunity” criticizer. Have a good day Jane….. I always enjoy talking with you.

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  • I’ll add one that uniformly leaves me unsatisfied–even worse than my dealings with the government: my health insurer. Any time I have to call them I DREAD it. I can’t get the same answer from two different people and most of time they are totally unhelpful. I suppose I could switch carriers, but I’m not sure it would be any better. Sometimes the devil you know is better than the one you don’t.

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    • Thanks for the words Syd. Customer satisfaction has always been a hot topic in both the private sector and the public one. Companies like Amazon are a rare commodity, that is why I hold them up as an example. They are a very large company that is totally committed to customer satisfaction. When I want to return a product I don’t get run arounds or the third degree. They simply send me a label and have someone come and pick up the return. It seems that the larger a company gets the less focused they are on their customers. That is definitely not the case with Amazon. If only others would learn from their example and yes I think it can be applied in both private and public companies.

      We know that the health insurers primary goal has been to spend as little on their customers as they can. The fewer test they allowed the more their profit was. That is one of the many things I like about Obamacare, they mandate that at least 80% (I think?) of premium payments go back to the customer in the form of actual care. The other twenty is for overhead and profits. I don’t think that will do much in the area of customer satisfaction but at least it will put more money into the actual healthcare of their customers.

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  • Janette here…LOL. I don’t often buy from Amazon. I shop locally and support the shop keepers in my community. My husband loves Amazon.
    My rule of thumb is every person, from President to CEO to airplane pilot to blogger puts on their pants the same way- one leg at a time. Maybe that is the way to get customer service- think how you would handle you…when you are ticked about some government thing that the person you are upset with has very little to do with the law….
    Btw- most postal carriers now are part time. Would you rather a chat or your mail? My carrier still watches out for us- but she is a contract carrier. Is your carrier actually a postal employee or a contract carrier? I know my contract carrier often works nine hour days to get her rounds done – paid for eight.

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    • Hi Janette (yeah got it right this time) . I don’t think much about how people put on their pants but yes if I were a postal carrier, even under contract work, I would stop and chat with my customers now and then; even if it did take an extra minute of my time. I would want my customers to know that I care about them as people. Maybe the golden rule is the whole point here. Treat people as people, not just something you have to deal with to get paid.

      When I ran a software development team we got awards for doing just that. When I had my own custom cabinet shop for six years I never had a customer complain about how I dealt with them. Treating people with respect is the secret.

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  • R.J., you’re expecting too much. It is not in every mail carrier’s nature to be extroverted, chatty, etc…(or any other segment of the workforce-government or private-for that matter). We’ve had both kinds…as long as the job gets done and they’re not rude or disrespectful, that’s all that matters. You can’t “train” people to be something they’re not. People come with a wide range of personalities, a little understanding goes a long way.
    Once I criticized some congress members and you told me to remember that they are just people too. That was a good point then and it’s a good point now.

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    • Jane, welcome back. It is Jane this time? Ok that stuff has run its course. I will try to keep you two straight in the future. 🙂

      I agree with you up to a point in that some people are introverts and some are naturally more outgoing. But I think you can “train” people to be something that they don’t think they currently are. In my weekly volunteer work at the soup kitchen, I see all kinds of guys that have gotten themselves into one trouble or another and had to remake themselves just to survive. Too many failures and not enough successes in that area but it does happen and it is certainly worth celebrating.

      But I do take your point that all of us are just people trying to get along in life and we should give the benefit of doubt when we can. No, I don’t expect all mail carriers to be like Gib was but isn’t it nice to be able to come across these types of people when we do. Gib had the right personality for the right job and he had fun at it. That is success in my mind no matter what your job is.

      For most of my life I have been an extreme introvert. Girls totally intimidated me until I was almost through my 20s. I was just not a people person but then someone taught me how to come out of my shell. That changed my very approach to life..

      I was extremely proud of all the people on my engineering team who learned how to interact with their customers to make it a pleasurable experience for everyone. If we just approach life as just getting the job done then we miss out on so much joy of having fun doing the job. That is the difference between trudging to work everyday and jumping out of bed for another daily adventure.

      I didn’t realize that I would be so chatty on this issue until you guys brought it out of me. Thanks for the dialog…..

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