The big corporates are big and successful because they never try to get things 100% right. Amazon, Ebay and the like are happy to hit their 'sweet spot' - simple, problem free, low cost transactions where nothing goes wrong - and not to waste money solving the problem transactions. Hence if something goes wrong you can't contact them except through call-centre hell and if the problem transaction has lost or cost less than £20 a fair number of us will rather write it off than try to fix it. The point is, their sweet spot is somewhere around 90% and upwards.
What they're doing is passing the transactional costs of customer service back to the customer; customers need to spend their own time solving their own problems through automated systems. Of course there are always subversives such as yours truly - who write a proper postal letter to the company secretary with only a return address (i.e. no phone number or email address). Your chances of getting the Cockroach Letter today are remote.*
When State bureaucracies reformed by Managerialism try to adopt the same tools as the big corporates one critical factor is missing - the need to retain satisfied customers. The State doesn't really care. We have known for years of course - but the Guardianistas are just waking up to the fact that it's hurting them, too:-
"The right has some semblance of critique: bureaucracy is the enemy of
free enterprise, it is about jobsworth pen-pushers who work for the
government, restricting the release of honest red-blooded capitalism.
Perhaps in response to this, the left has assumed that defending (or
being silent about) the smothering prevalence of bureaucracy is all
about defending the state. Well, it’s certainly one of the best things
about being rich that one is spared having to spend too much time
dealing with the council or the government in general – the worst
The problem is that the left sees bureaucracy as a benign force - a damper on political change and enthusiasms, an enforcer of a comfortable mediocrity, the triumph of group decisions over maverick entrepreneurship, low risk and high continuity. Perhaps up until the 1960s this was even partly true. But combine Managerialism with Bureaucracy and what you get is a nightmare Kafkaesque prison of 'no can do'.
* In response to a guest's complaint about sighting a cockroach, a famous hotel wrote back "..never in the history of this hotel has this happened before, and we have immediately mobilised skilled operatives to investigate the sighting. Rest assured that your complaint is being actioned with the utmost priority at the very highest level and all the hotel's resources will be exhausted in ensuring we continue to maintain the superlative standards of hygiene and service for which we are so well known." The problem was that a post-it note was stuck to the back of the letter instructing "send this guy the Cockroach Letter".