Private or Public Sector – what is the difference?



There seems to be a myth that there is a world of difference between customer service in the private and public sector and I ask the question – is there?

True, in the public sector you may have customers who have no choice but to interact with you whereas in the private sector your customers can generally choose their supplier. True, in the public sector you may be interacting with customers who are vulnerable but particularly in these difficult times, that could also be said for customers of the private sector. Whilst the public sector is generally non profit making, both sectors are working to budgets and are accountable for their costs.

Surely the skills required to serve customers in both the private and public sectors are the same. Research over the years has come up with the top requirements from customers:

  • Effective problem solving
  • Efficiency
  • Timeliness
  • Professionalism
  • Easy to do business with

The public sector seems to be increasingly striving to focus and improve their customer service. But in some areas of the private sector the focus is on the bottom line and cost cutting rather than investing in their service and meeting the basic needs of their customers.

There are lessons to be learnt from both the private and public sector – the needs of your customers are not going to be fundamentally different so take a step back and ask yourselves are you meeting the five customer requirements? If the answer is no to any of these, consider your experience of being a customer – from which organisations do you experience service excellence? They may not be within your sector or industry but there could be lessons of best practice which can benefit your organisation.


Annie Mulady

Director of Mulady Solutions