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UK Leader Calls for Customer Service!

August 6, 2009

I’m currently being exposed to the ‘joys’ of Disney and my girls of course are enjoying the whole experience. Back in the hotel after another day of hair-raising and stomach churning experiences on some of the rides, I caught up with emails and some news from back home. After reading a news article in The Telegraph online it felt nice to know I’m not the only one desperate to see a shift in thinking in big organisations. And it’s nice to know it’s not just happening in the most free-thinking private sector companies. Conservative Party leader David Cameron is reported to have urged his shadow team to think like supermarket bosses, who have to keep on providing better service to customers even when times are tough.

He’s quoted as saying: "The whole point is if you had a businessman sitting here and not a politician, they would probably tell you that the moments when their business was facing difficulties was when they were at their most inventive, their most creative and when they came up with brilliant new ways of doing business in order to provide better customer service.

"That's how government ought to think. Sainsbury's, Tesco, they don't think to themselves that the reduction of costs, which they do on a permanent basis, is going to make their service worse.

"They say it's going to make their service to their customers better. We need some of that thinking in government."

I’m glad he’s looking at new ways of doing things, but I’m also glad he’s publicly vocalised how important the customer is. The customer is the most important person in any business – and the same should go for government too. The government in the UK has been very publicly and openly scrutinised for various expense claims recently and the voter or ‘customer’ has had the opportunity to have a say about how taxpayers money is being spent. This is a good thing and it’s made the government sit up and look more closely at what the people want and need and the information that they should have access to.

In the USA, I’ve seen many more examples of organisations doing business “correctly” than we’ve got back home in the UK. By that I mean properly engaging their staff, having bottom-up change and not top-down control and really seeing their organisation as “human”, not a system. Maybe Cameron would do well to look at this side of the Atlantic for a little inspiration as well.

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