Jeffrey Levy: Social Media: Some Resources and A Challenge

Jeffrey Levy: Social Media: Some Resources and A Challenge

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Jeffrey's a web manager at EPA, who has lots of serious experience and advice for good customer service for government.

Check out Social Media: Some Resources and A Challenge including:

I, for one, welcome our new Nerd Overlords.

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2 Comments

Stephen Buckley

Craig,
I know that you are very interested in improving "customer service" by ALL types of organizations (even government ones).
Therefore (and please correct me if I'm wrong), I assume that you know that there is a natural tendency in all of us (some more than others) to shift our responsibilities on to the people who are not being fully appreciative of the wonderful service that we are trying to provide to them.
Sometimes we can be so convinced about "The Answer" (i.e., our answer)to someone else's needs, that we forget to listen to "the voice of the customer".
For example: Let's say a Technical Support dept. is getting a lot of calls from people who don't understand their product's "User Guide". MAYBE it's not the customers' fault. MAYBE it's the "User Guide" that to be rewritten.
Apparently, some (maybe most) federal employees are paying good money (i.e., ours) to attend all these "open-govt." conferences, and are NOT getting what they need to move forward.
Does that mean that these conferences are "failures"? No.
But the GovLoop discussion (to which Jeffrey pointed in his blog; see link above) does point to the perception among federal attendees that, while these conferences are "fun" with stimulating speakers, hallway networking, happy-hour, etc., they do NOT deliver on their hype that they provide practical information on how to move forward with Gov2.0 when they go back to the office.
Exhorting federal employees to ignore their bosses and "Just Do It!" is definitely NOT the advice that they can use. Even to federal employees who really believe in Gov2.0, the idea of not having to first convince upper-management is crazy-talk (as it would be, also, in private companies).
I'm certainly glad that SOME federal employees (like Jeffrey Levy) are lucky enough to have enlightened bosses that allow them to experiment with online tools. (It also helps if you are the agency's webmaster.)
However, the vast majority of those federal employees, who DO want to use Web2.0 tools, have bosses (who also have bosses) who are justifiably afraid of experimenting (lest they "screw up" in the eyes of their overseers, i.e., citizens, White House, Congress).
A lot of that fear will go away, hopefully, when the White House issues its "Open Government Directive" (later this year?). That is what the federal managers are waiting for. Why stick their necks out now, when the safest thing to do is just to wait for official permission?
That point needs to be recognized by all the Gov2.0 "rock stars", lest they actually convince the some naive (i.e., younger) federal employees to "jump the gun" and "grab the reins" (as Jeffrey put it) and compromise their careers unnecessarily.
So my advice is to lower the hype, stop trying to "drive" your customers to do stuff they shouldn't be doing (yet), and have more and better discussions (e.g., more GovLoop, less Twitter) about how to help draft, and prepare for issuance of, the Open Govt. Directive.
P.S. I really admire Jeffrey Levy's energy and work in the area of Gov2.0. I know he's very perceptive because he told GovFresh.com that "MyGov.gov" (i.e., my idea posted on White House 'Brainstorming' site) would be a "killer app". 😉 And so, given his perceptiveness, I hope he understands that my comments here are offered in the most constructive spirit that I can convey in print. (IMHO — really.)

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