Customers are not always right, but being human-centered is

While the public sector may have proudly borrowed the “customer is always right” line from
the private sector, this doesn’t always hold true for government services. Mistakes from the
customer’s side happen all the time, sometimes accidently and sometimes due to varying
personal feelings and motivations. Many people are late in paying their bills, taxes and fines
despite constant reminders. Car owners avoid public transportation no matter what
incentives and penalties are established by the public sector. Such transactional mistakes
and behavioural miss-ups are a burden on government budget. Therefore learning how to
empathize with customers, as well as understand their motivations and values, is a core skill

The core values

for any public servant. The ability to truly make these specific and measurable behavioural
changes will not only improve the experience of users encountering the government
machinery but will also result in considerably more efficient services and programs where
money is invested in value-adding activities instead of in correcting transactional mistakes
and handling behavioural miss-ups. It is central to understand other’s experience of
humanity and use that to guide subsequent action.

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