It's no secret that government organisations are under pressure to cut costs. But in the rush to save money, it's important not to lose sight of the difference t between efficiency and effectiveness.

Customer service in the public sector is a marathon, not a sprint. Most businesses enjoy relatively short relationships with their customers, no matter how hard they work to create life-long fans. Public sector organisations, however, will work with citizens again and again for years -- and sometimes their entire lives. This means proper customer relationship management is critical. If a customer relationship is left to fester, it can turn into a lengthy cycle of repeated angry phone calls. Spending a little more time to fix a problem, rather than just bringing a call to a close, can prevent additional calls in the future -- not to mention improving satisfaction rates and public confidence.

Social landlord AmicusHorizon provides a great case study for this principle in action. AmicusHorizon was handling 32,000 calls per year from the residents of its 28,000 homes, but its housing management system wasn't able to pull up customer records or track the issues a customer was calling about. After shopping around, the housing association moved to using Microsoft Dynamics CRM 4.0 to track customer interactions.
 The result? Customer call times increased overall -- but 93% of all issues were resolved in just one call, compared with 77% before the change.

AmicusHorizon noticed a host of other improvements, as well. The system made it easier to track employee performance, identify customers who needed urgent support and cut the number of live complaints from more than 600 to 44. Most importantly, the new system is adaptable and will be able to scale to meet the organisation's changing requirements, so it can continue to reduce costs and improve service in the future.

If you had to choose, would you rather complete tasks faster, or more effectively?