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The rise of the citizen consumer

Government Market Segment Manager, IBM

Every day we change hats; we are shoppers, employees, patients and the list goes on. Those hats determine how we interact with institutions and organizations, and how we consume products and services, as well as set expectations on how we want to be treated and percieved.

One hat we all share is that of a citizen as we interact with local, regional and central governments. In my previous posts, I’ve discussed a variety of issues related to government, but now I would like to address you not as a part of a government organization, but as a consumer of government services—a citizen consumer.  

Government sessions at IBM Insight 2014

At Insight 2014, we have a number of sessions specifically geared to government, and we look forward to your participation, but we don't want you to just come and listen to us—we want you to switch hats so we can listen to you. Usually, we just hear from you as a government leader—this time we also want to hear from you as an experienced citizen, who uses government services.

The concerns of the citizen consumer

When you pay taxes, renew your driver’s license, call the planning department at city hall or interact with your local police department, you undoubtedly have a variety of experiences—some good, some not so good. What are these experiences? Are the government organizations easy to work with? Do they understand who you are and what your needs are? Can they anticipate those needs, based on previous interaction (say, the way a video streaming service makes recommendations for your next video)? Do they communicate effectively to you? Do different agencies (or even different departments within the same agency) have the same understanding of who you are and what services or benefits you are receiving? Are you able to conduct business with the agency through various channels such as online, in an office or on a smart phone? 

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Can government compete?

We’re all consumers, and companies realize that in order to compete they must put the consumer at the center of their activities. They must understand the consumer, anticipate their needs and provide easy ways to engage. We have all become used to that, and are increasingly expecting the same kind of understanding and service from our government. While governments don’t compete with each other, they are competing with the way we as consumers are being engaged. In a very real sense, we are all citizen consumers.

So, please, switch hats to that of a citizen consumer and ask questions from different perspectives. Challenge us, make us better and help us learn so we can, in turn, help fuel the transformations taking place in your organization and in your life.

I look forward to continuing this conversation at Insight 2014, or, leave a comment below for a response today.