E-government should stress customer service, report says

The customer is king.

As governments expand their online services, an international management consulting company is encouraging CIOs to embrace customer relationship management techniques to improve their programs.

Stephen J. Rohleder, the group chief executive in the government operating group of Accenture, presented findings from the company's just-published report, "eGovernment Leadership: Engaging the Customer," in a keynote speech this morning at the FOSE conference in Washington.

"E-government must engage the customer," he said. "Standing still is not an option."

In addition to using customer relationship management techniques that are gaining acceptance in the private sector, Rohleder also said it is important for governments to involve users in developing new services.

He said e-government programs must clearly identify their objectives, put only the right services online and find ways to measure their success. They need to know what works, he said.

"Our research has shown that for many governments, a lack of consistent focus and consistent data can make this a difficult question to answer," Rohleder said.

Accenture's report, its fourth in as many years, also warned against trying to be all things to all people.

Governments must "focus on providing online services that offer the biggest potential for return on investment to both government and customers, while avoiding the simplistic (and costly) approach of putting all services online," the report said.

Accenture's report gave high marks to Canada's e-government efforts for its cross-agency, multiple-channel approach to providing services.

On a tier below Canada were Australia, Belgium, Denmark, Finland, France, Germany, Hong Kong, Ireland, Singapore, the United Kingdom and the United States.

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