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CRM in Governance

The government is a big customer when it comes to IT applications. As tax paying citizens or as non-immigrant skilled workers in our various assignments, consultants like me would have had opportunities to interact as a customer with various CRM applications in many countries. You might have applied for a Tax or a Social ID related requirement. What has been your experience? Have you experienced customer delight in any situation?

Generally, I have found people to be much more accommodating of poor service when it comes to the government. The same people who would log service request after service request of a listed company would grumble, throw their hands up in frustration but ultimately not do much about the poor service that they receive from the government. The reason is not far to fathom. It’s easy to change your broadband service provider but there’s only one place from where you can get that tax refund. Or only one place which will reissue your passport. Government is a monopoly in many cases.

But, in spite of the advantageous power equation, governments would like to keep their customers happy since citizens are the only customers who get to choose their CEO once every few years. This special fact is probably a big reason which ultimately explains the spending by the government on applications which improve governance, transparency and CRM.

My online experiences with governance in other countries have been limited to Visa related interactions, which I have found to be more or less hassle free or an experience with acquiring an important ID number. In this instance, my experience was mixed. While I was delighted to easily locate the nearest center online, I had to make multiple applications and trips to the center to ensure I finally received the said ID. I was partly to blame since my address changed during the time period but I couldn’t help wondering if a more customer friendly process couldn’t have said me and the government both time and money. I must say that tax related interaction in two developed countries that I have faced have been very prompt and hassle free.

In India, over the last few years, we have seen consistent improvements in this regard. Whether any of the CRM channels has reached a best-in-class standard is open to debate, but their very presence is at least a step in the right direction. The Indian Railways website, which provides online booking and reservation facility is one of the most successful e-commerce websites in India clocking close to INR 4 Billion a month! Apart from booking tickets, you can check the status of any waitlisted tickets or enroll into their loyalty program. Many other government agencies also have an internet presence, thus reaching out to the citizen in a more seamless manner.

Today, I can log complaints against errant auto rickshaws on the Road Transport Authority website, request the Chief Vet Officer of the Municipal Corporation to take action on stray dogs in my locality on the Municipal Corporation website and also book a new cooking gas connection online! Even the local Police Station in Hyderabad now has its own website and publishes the names and contact numbers of the concerned Police officers. Whether the service delivery against these requests is up to the mark is subject matter for the comments section, but the day of paper based applications to the maze of bureaucracy is coming to a close in India slowly, albeit surely.


CRM in government is severely lacking, in India especially. As is the case with all other things in India we have lots of facilities but most of them are not used or toothless, the Information act being the case in point.
CRM should be used together with a CDI solution to provide effective solution. Only then we will have the entire data for a particular customer, citizen in this case, available for helping.
The Unique Id is a good first step in this direction. Hoping for the best!

Yes Anand, the Unique ID and CDI tools may help but what is urgently needed is an appreciation for what the customer represents. We see this quote by Mahatma Gandhi in many offices of the Indian Govt. which remains as relevant today as it was more than a hundred years ago-

"A customer is the most important visitor on our premises. He is not dependent on us. We are dependent on him. He is not an interruption in our work. He is the purpose of it. He is not an outsider in our business. He is part of it. We are not doing him a favor by serving him. He is doing us a favor by giving us an opportunity to do so."

Of course, in the current electronic age, the customer need not be "in the premises" but what is more important is our reaction to his presence, whether it be visual, audio or electronic.

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