Here’s great article that captures a very important principle:
You should go and read it, but if you don’t have time here’s the potted version.
To our customers, we are what they see.
Here’s something even more interesting though. Something that I believe sums up why we get it wrong even when we mean well. Under another article linked to this one, and on a similar theme, the first commenter states that this point of view “demonstrates a complete and utter lack of comprehension of what a council is and does.”
The writer responds to assure the commenter that they do know what they’re talking about – and of course they do, without question. Sadly the commenter has missed the point by several miles. This is how I would have been tempted to respond:
“Yes it does. This absolutely shows that I have no idea how the council works, how complex a structure it is, what the logistical implications are for each service. So what? In the context of this article, I’m a customer. I don’t need to know. I don’t care. It’s not my problem, it’s yours. I don’t care if you have 100 miles of road or 4000. I don’t care how big the schools budget is, it’s just a phone number to me. I don’t care if you’re managed by a director, a head of department or the Wizard of Oz. None of this is interesting or relevant to my needs. Now, lets discuss your complete and utter lack of comprehension of the concept of ‘customers‘, shall we?”
Too harsh? Perhaps … but it’s scary that someone whose purpose is to serve the public thinks its ok to deny the reality of a customer’s viewpoint.
Which brings me to my closing question. If I asked you right here, right now, to write a sentence describing what you are for – not what you do, but what your purpose is – would you be able to? What would you write? What are you for?
If you don’t know, the public sector is in big trouble.