Government is a service. For modern governments, which exist solely to serve the interests of the People governed, government is a service provider that is held accountable via civic engagement. The primary service government provides is the management of civil infrastructure, communal assets, and public works. Government, at all levels, organizes society, so communities of all sizes can function properly. Unresponsive and inept government has frustrated a number of people to the point they no longer see the benefit of government, but a community without some form of government, which is somewhat functional, cannot function as a community. Functional and responsive government is needed.
Like any service provider, however, government should practice good customer service. Whether a billionaire paying millions in taxes or a welfare recipient receiving a few hundred dollars in public assistance, whether a corporation facing a regulator or a driver renewing a license, whether a senior citizen applying for Social Security or an average citizen mailing a letter, citizen customers should experience good customer service from their public servants. From road workers to Congressman, public servants should be utilizing good customer service practices when dealing with their customers, i.e. citizen. Unfortunately, public servants, both elected and unelected government employees, too often forget they are public service.
From the teachers to the President, government positions mean power. When someone is hired by their fellow citizens or the representatives of the People, they are receive a position that inherently affords them influence over others and offers them a certain degree of legal protection. The power can be intoxicating. Like all power, however, the power of government employment comes with responsibility, which is easy to forget when accountability is the exception and not the rule. It is very hard to be fired from government positions due to poor performance or change the mission and work environment of government so good public servants can do a good job. Even elected officials are not truly held accountable for their actions. They tend to lose their jobs due to shifts in political trends.
Government needs greater accountability from increased civic engagement, but it also needs devoted public servants to become community leaders within the government to transform the culture of government. How government works cannot be changed until how those in government work is changed. All public servants are supposed to be community leaders, but they also need to lead their peers in order to change a culture where the responsibility of the job is too often second to the privilege of the job. This means leading by example and taking on a professional mentality, which includes adopting a service mentality. It means peer leaders, who can come from any pay grade or any level of responsibility, need to create a professional environment by practicing good consumer service.
Good customer service is an easy concept. It does, however, require training, whether self-training or peer-training, practice, and small acts of service to others on a regular basis. It starts with internal service to coworkers, family members, and friends, which transforms into good customer service when that same mentality is applied to those in need of government services. There are people who act and believe all others exist to service them. Those with a service mentality seek out ways to help others, i.e. to be of service to others. In doing so, they cultures others to address their interests as well as those of everyone while fostering a constructive community environment. Government, through its employees, needs to embrace a service mentality in order to overcome the dysfunction that has infected government.
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