By Kazeem Ugbodaga
Governor Akinwunmi Ambode of Lagos State has charged civil servants to embrace effective relations with customers as a way of repositioning the public service for better performance.
The governor spoke on Tuesday while declaring open a two-day training for public servants, tagged: “Creating and Maintaining a Customer-Centric Driven Culture In The Public Service Delivery System,” held in Ikeja area of Lagos, Southwest Nigeria.
According to him, following strategies would be central to any effort to ensure that the Lagos State Public Service adopted a positive change in perspective and orientation by adopting more extensive customer-centric policies and practices.
Ambode, who was represented by the Commissioner for Establishments, Training and Pensions, Dr. Benson Oke said stakeholders should begin by building a customer-first culture of government service with customers as the primary focus of interactions, aying that this could be achieved by meaningfully consulting with citizens about their needs and experiences.
“Efforts should be made to organize government to make its interactions simpler and easier by experimenting with new digital and other techniques and service-delivery tools. The Lagos state Public Service should make better use of open data and behavioural economics.
“The Lagos State Public Service should be prepared to work proactively with current government employees while recruiting new workers who understand why customer-centric government is essential. Digital-savvy younger graduates are a rich source for this new workforce,” he said.
To gauge proper workers-customers relations, Ambode said public servants should let the citizens tell them what mattered most, but avoid asking them directly, adding that “asking people which aspects of service delivery are most in need of improvement—the time required to resolve a request versus the politeness of staff, for example—is unlikely to yield accurate results.
“Identify natural break points in customer satisfaction. Striving for zero wait times and one-click transactions across the entirety of government services is likely to prove both unrealistic and costly. Combine public feedback with internal data to uncover hidden pain points.
“Combining customer-satisfaction information with operational data—call-center volumes and number of in-person visits, for instance—can yield additional insights, beyond what citizens state explicitly via surveys and other feedback channels,” he stated.
Ambode challenged public servants to accept the truism that in this emerging golden age of citizen engagement, government would improve by being open to experimentation and willing to embrace new tools such as crowd-sourcing and public scorecards to measure the quality of its services.