What would be the perfect service to the citizen?


Author: Daniel Annenberg

Source: Terra - RS - 14/10/2009

Portuguese Prime Minister visits Citizen's Shop in the city of Murça

Government of Portugal / Press Release Portuguese Prime Minister visits Citizen's Shop in Murça Portuguese Prime Minister visits Citizen's Shop in Murça

Daniel Annenberg
from São Paulo

After a few columns on which I showed some of the good and bad experiences of serving citizens, whether in the public service or in the private service, you must be wondering what would be a good service model on which we could rely, which could serve as a reference for all services?

In fact, there is no perfect model. Yes, there are several institutions that have shown that it is possible to serve the citizen or even the client well.

These institutions have invested in training their employees, in valuing core activities, in reducing bureaucracy and simplifying their procedures, in standardizing and democratizing access to information, in demonstration systems that allow citizens to complain, suggest and praise and have feedback on these considerations, in the computerization of services, which invest in the quality of operation management and in the change of culture related to customer service, believing in citizens until proven otherwise and giving equal treatment to all interested parties.

Ufa! It seems difficult to follow all these steps and change the logic of customer service. In fact, it is not simple. However, it is also not impossible. And there is no single formula for changing this logic.

However, one of the main reasons why we see quality of care so infrequently, whether in person, via telephone or via electronic means, is that the leaders lack the will or decision to prioritize the final service to the citizen.

In general, there is a much greater concern to change flows and procedures or to computerize the entire process or to re-engineer or change the organizational structure in organizations.

However, there are few agencies that keep the focus on the citizen and the employee that serves this citizen.

If there was a greater concern for the interests and needs of citizens, I have no doubt that most bodies (public and private) would serve citizens or customers differently.


A very interesting experience that we had news about recently is what the Government of Portugal is doing. At first, it created the “Loja do Cidadão”, much like our Citizen Service Centers in Brazil, such as Poupatempo, in São Paulo, SAC, in Bahia, etc. (and, by the way, inspired by them).

However, the Portuguese Government has gone further and is creating a new Central, in which, in situations of change of residence or loss of all documents, for example, citizens fill out only one form and the Government is in charge of distributing it. citizen information for all agencies (public and private) to make changes to the register, the necessary technical changes, the issuance of documents, etc.

In other words, it is a one-stop shop (or multi-service), where the Government has to take the necessary measures and provide a good service, based on first citizen information. Whoever has to “run” after the documents is no longer the citizen, but the Government itself. The logic is reversed and it is no longer the citizen who needs to "run" after the public service ...

And it is interesting that a country like Portugal, sometimes considered as one of the reasons for the excess of bureaucracy that we have in Brazil (we always hear someone talking about “our Portuguese heritage” in terms of bureaucracy, in terms of not believing in the word citizens, but in what is written and stamped on paper, etc.), is much more advanced in this area than we are.

Who knows, one day, we will be able to make services (public and private) work this way in our country. Equipment, personnel, management skills, all of that, we have for sure. Therefore, private companies and public agencies, get to work! Citizens and service users will thank you ...


As I always considered that this column should have as one of its great objectives to hear and publish the testimonies of citizens who use public and private services, whether praising or criticizing, I reproduce below an email received from a citizen, who reads the column and made severe criticisms of a company cited in last week's column.

I would just like to clarify that I do not know the citizen mentioned below and I also have no relationship, power of attorney or direct contact with the company mentioned in last week's column.

I just want to make it clear that the column is open and ready to hear the other side of the story and that by the time I received the email below, it had information from several citizens, who had sent compliments or complaints to the aforementioned company, who had received prompt feedback and who were satisfied with the company's agility and willingness to resolve the identified problems.

The e-mail below demonstrates that it is always important to listen to the other side and that we should not always be sure about the quality of the service provided by a company or public or private body ...

Read and draw your conclusions ...

Dear Daniel


I read your interesting article praising the service provided by Sul America Seguros. Unfortunately, I understand that your example was completely wrong.

Unfortunately, more than 60 people of our knowledge had a very different and HIGHLY NEGATIVE experience with South America. I briefly explain the facts:


a) we are a philanthropic entity from the Interior of S. Paulo
b) our activities are supported by the donation of Medical Fees by a Clinic
c) the Clinic received a proposal - illegal and unethical - to “Decrease Fees” by 30%. It should be noted that this, in addition to being formally prohibited by CRM and CFM, the Decrease in Fees would TOTALLY disable our Charity activities


What happened?

More than 50 Sul América Beneficiaries accessed the 0800 Service, more than 10 called the Ombudsman and at least 5 APAES, Libraries, Nursing Homes and Nurseries assisted by us sent a fax addressed to the President of Sul América - Patrick de Larragoite, appealing for his sensitivity since Charity Activities will end if the Decrease in Fees is implemented.


What was Sul América's response - so praised in your article?




So your compliments are groundless.

Sul América proposed unethical actions to the Clinic, did not care about our Philanthropic Association and to complete it DISPREZED its beneficiaries by leaving them unanswered.


Is this the desirable behavior of a company that gives "access to information", dear Daniel?

I understand not. At least until now… Who knows, correct that, starting by removing the infamous “Decrease in Fees”

"In any case, I trust your sensitivity to help us find a solution to the problem ...".

Daniel Annenberg is a public administrator and consultant. He worked at Poupatempo since his creation until 2006: superintendent for 7 years and advisor for 2. Currently he is the managing partner of Res Publica Consultoria em Qualidade & Serviços Serviços.

Opinions expressed herein are the sole responsibility of the author and do not necessarily comply with the editorial parameters of Terra Magazine.

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