CRM a dirty word in the hallowed halls of Whitehall

"Thank you for calling the DSS, glad we could help, have a nice day..."
Written by Sally Watson, Contributor

"Thank you for calling the DSS, glad we could help, have a nice day..."

Blinkered behaviour by government agencies is wasting key opportunities to offer better services to citizens. That's according to a report from global consultancy Accenture published this morning. Research conducted in 11 countries on the benefits of CRM for government services was met by scepticism by most senior-level and operations managers in the civil service. Accenture partner Sean Shine told silicon.com: "Most respondents were aware of CRM but felt it wasn't relevant to them. "There's a discomfort with using terms like 'customer segmentation' which gets in the way [of understanding the benefits of the technology]." As the world's largest provider of services, Accenture believes the gradual adoption of customer-centric business within government is inevitable. The consultancy's survey, however, shows the take-up of CRM in the public sector is less than rapid. Only seven per cent of respondents were planning to develop customer segmentation - a key CRM technique enabling tailored services - perhaps in fear of being seen as discriminatory. "In three to five years' time consumers of government services will want access through their mobile phones, digital TV and the internet. In order to deliver e-government properly, agencies have to identify customer service principles," Shine said. Bureaucracy and technology were cited as the biggest barriers to modernisation. In an interview with silicon.com last week, John Yard, the man in charge of the Inland Revenue's IT emphasised the importance for personalised services for the taxpayer. "The world is moving faster and we are looking for a partner that is able to work with us to cope with that," Yard said. But Shine admitted that the business panacea may be overrated. "There are positive and negative lessons to be learned from the private sector," he said. "These things are hard to do and we share the scars." "Given the size of the agencies involved, the task of data integration is incredibly complex. It's a major job which is fraught with risk." Accenture - the consultancy formerly known as Andersen Consulting - surveyed managers in revenue, work, motor and information departments in Australia, Canada, Finland, France, Germany, Ireland, Italy, Singapore, Spain, the UK and the US.
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