Magazine article CRM Magazine

My Fellow Citizens ... er, Customers: Mixing Politics and CRM

Magazine article CRM Magazine

My Fellow Citizens ... er, Customers: Mixing Politics and CRM

Article excerpt

IT'S BEEN SAID that our society is influenced more by capitalism than democracy or republicanism (meaning government by the people or by its chosen representatives, respectively). Another common sentiment is that government should be run more like a business. I'm on the fence regarding the latter, but it's clear to me that the former is hogwash. For proof, I offer my take on The Man's approach to CRM.

While it's true that CRM exists in a governmental form, where the C stands for constituent or citizen, the goals and actions of government are far removed from what we'd expect from any sanely operated company.

Businesses exist to earn money by providing goods or services of sufficient quality that lots of people choose them. Government exists for all those reasons summarized in the preamble to the U.S. Constitution, presented differently in other nations' governing documents, of course. It's a services-based operation, but it's not like citizens have a choice of governments--at best, they can choose the officers and board members, or emigrate to someplace where they'll still have no choice. The government gets its money whether citizens use its services or not.

Government isn't supposed to be a for-profit enterprise, despite what the parade of corrupt officials getting busted for influence peddling suggests. Sometimes it winds up with a surplus, but that's supposed to be reinvested in the system. A government that tries to make a profit off its operations has to watch out for men in green tights hailing from Sherwood Forest, if you know what I mean.

For that matter, what does a government actually sell? Public officials in the executive and legislative branches act as a kind of sales organization with some marketing duties, but there is no direct exchange of money for services, unless you're rich enough to buy a politician. Neither money nor votes (the other currency of government) buys anything directly; our votes buy us promises that the elected are under no real obligation to deliver. This is like buying the idea of pizza and hoping somebody decides to deliver one.

Businesses are always wary of competition, whether from established rivals or upstart companies with a radical new way of doing things. …

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