Study: Government Managers Embrace CRM, With Limits

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Though government executives are not normally driven by goals such as customer retention and profit-per-customer, they are seeing that commercially developed customer relationship management principles can increase the success of their agencies, according to an Accenture global study released last week.

Despite the overall willingness among public-sector managers to adopt these principles, the research found that government has a long way to go to turn the potential of CRM into reality.

As governments worldwide recognize the need to improve the ways they provide services to citizens -- and to become more responsive, efficient and customer-focused -- Accenture's 11-nation study sought to determine the attitudes of senior government executives toward CRM.

The research targeted four customer-focused agency types: revenue; human services; motor vehicles and government information agencies.

"The public's view of routine service is being shaped by the customer-centric, 24/7 nature of so many private businesses, and they are now expecting the same from government," said David Hunter, Accenture global managing partner for government practice.

Hunter said Accenture's research found deep gaps in government agencies between the recognition of CRM's value and practical application on an operational level.

The survey did find acceptance of customer service among government managers as important to achieving superior performance, and three-quarters of respondents expressed confidence in CRM's applicability to government.

But there appear to be limits to how much government agencies will embrace what they perceive as purely private-sector concepts. For example, only 7 percent of agencies said they would develop "customer segmentation," a key CRM technique that enables organizations to gain greater insight into their customers and tailor services to meet individual needs. One explanation may be a distaste for the notion that government might separate its customers into classes or groups the way that a private-sector organization would.

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