municipal

Should I Stay or Should I Go? - 2/23/21


Should I stay or should I go?  That’s not just a classic song by The Clash.  It’s also the question customers ask more and more, especially during difficult economic times. A recent study in the Charlotte Business Journal noted that 50% of North Carolina businesses are concerned with how to Read more

Optimism – A Force for Good in Customer Service - 2/16/21


Will 2021 be a better year than 2020?  I have absolutely no idea.  Maybe it would be nice to see into the future and know for certain, but I can’t and I don’t.  But as I wade further and further into this year, I can hope that the water Read more

To Assure, Ensure You Do This - 2/9/21


Vince Lombardi – famous professional football coach – became a big hit on the speaker’s circuit during his time coaching.  He applied many of his principles in football and life to business, and one of his great business quotes is:  Confidence is contagious and so is lack of confidence, Read more

Let Your Goal Determine Your Question - 2/2/21


In the early 2000s, when the economy hit the skids, companies realized that they couldn’t take their customers for granted.  They needed to ramp up customer service.  They needed to listen to the Voice of the Customer. During the Great Recession in the 2008-10 timeframe, much of the “new marketing Read more

Excellence is Not Perfection, and that’s OK - 1/26/21


Surveys have questions with ratings that range from Excellent to Poor.  We custom-design and deliver Service Excellence Training.  Tom Peters wrote the book “In Search of Excellence.” But how do you define Excellence, particularly in customer service?  Let’s start with what Excellence is not.  Excellence is not something reflected in Read more

Bring Magic to Your Account Management - 1/19/21


One of our first sports-industry clients was the Orlando Magic.  They were a true leading-edge organization in the early 2000s when it came to dedicating resources to season ticket holder retention.  They didn’t make customer service, relationship-development, and renewals simply a function of the Sales department.  They broke it Read more

Customers Want Easy, but Easy is Difficult - 1/12/21


New employees go through days of training to learn products and services.  They have formal workshops to learn how to use their office applications, web functions, and whatever programs are specific to their department.  They test new technology, and they get quizzed on knowledge of policies.  This is hours Read more

Make 2021 the Year of Building Relationships - 1/5/21


I’ve been very fortunate over this company’s 20+ years in business to have great and long-lasting relationships with many clients, colleagues, business partners, and co-workers.  It’s a gift to be able to call on these individuals for advice or referrals or to be a sounding board.  And it’s just Read more

Bring Warmth During Winter - 12/29/20


Winter is upon us.  Now, winter can mean different things to different people in different regions, but just the word conjures up cold.  It conjures up visions of snow.  It conjures up feelings of wind and lack of warmth. Although some of us may like the cold at times of Read more

2020 Holiday Poem - 12/22/20


When in the role of customer service,We are wired to give and give.It’s built into our DNA.It’s simply the way we live. In order to give to others,We need to find ways to give them their fill.We need to pour empathy and openness into them.To serve, we need to have Read more

Change City Culture by Doing This…and What Else?

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Blog 12-2-14In the recent WTOC story City Council discusses budget, customer service, the City of Savannah is highlighted for their initiative to change the culture of the organization. They plan to setup rate-your-service kiosks and put everyone through customer service training. While these are positive actions to take, there has to be more, right?

When you think about a culture, you think about “how things work around here,” you think about how decisions are made, how relationships work, how communications flow, what it’s really like to work at the City of Savannah. So what impacts that?

The organization’s Mission, Vision, and Core Values impact that; leadership has the biggest impact on that culture. Reward/recognition systems, accountability based on well-documented and well-communicated customer service standards impact that culture. The organizational structure, workflow processes, who and how they hire, and internal and external communications impact culture. And yes, measurement is important, but how are they creating a consistent dialogue with residents to truly know and act on the “Voice of the Customer?”

Too many organizations take an approach to changing culture that is like putting new tires on your car; the new tires make the car look a little fresher and shinier, but they haven’t impacted what truly makes the car go.

When you are looking to change culture, realize that you’re about to undertake something important, something big!

Take a comprehensive approach to culture change.

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The Customer Service Rep Stuck Inside the Robot

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Blog 10-13-14Usually I can share an insightful “lesson learned” from customer service stories on the web, but this one is too little weird to evaluate; yet, it’s interesting enough to share.

In the article Robot makes big bang at Indy airport, you can see a picture of a robot that circulates baggage claim at the Indianapolis International Airport with an iPad on top showing the face of a guest services employee. The robot is fashionably dressed in a blue golf shirt and a lavaliere that I assume has his/her/its (?) name badge.

You can’t make this stuff up!

The idea is to bring customer service to the customers instead of their having to go upstairs to the guest services department. I’m reaching for any other benefit, but I’m sure someone creative will begin incorporating printing functionality on the robot, baggage handling, child watching, and coffee dispensing among the many other uses of the robot.

I’m not certain why they couldn’t put an actual person there instead of a robot (except for the “off hours” opportunity where staff could work remotely through the robot while guest services is closed), but the concept is interesting.

Share this post, and offer your thoughts “socially” – How could this robot best be used?

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In Government, Do You Want Good Customer Service or Low Costs?

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Blog 3-19-14Quality, Price, Service – Select any 2.

This is the sign that supposedly hangs (or hung) in dry cleaners across the country. The point is, you can’t have all 3, so figure out – essentially – what you DON’T want.

In the world of customer service, organizations often have a similar question – Do we want good customer service or low costs?

This is based on the assumption that you can’t have great customer service without increasing costs. The recent article Water operations review in GA county seeks cost savings, customer service improvements notes how one Georgia county is trying to do both.

The DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management (DWM) has hired a consulting firm to evaluate organizational efficiencies, but in doing so also improve customer service. There isn’t a great deal of detail in the article, but you can glean some of the strategy by what’s included in the article: “The partnership is also expected to improve customer service and reduce wait times for customers. A thorough review of the utility’s administration, planning, operations, maintenance and capital programs, customer service, and billing and collections will also occur.”

To improve customer service, one key is to view customer service as the composition of the employee attitudes and the service processes. More standardized, high-quality processes often are more efficient and result in less rework, fewer complaints to address, and higher productivity. This equates to lower cost.

The review of multiple departments suggests that they’re looking from a structure and process perspective to find inefficiencies in internal processes, internal communications, and communications about customer needs/issues. Streamlining internal processes often results in improved efficiency, and designing processes and customer communications to be better coordinated usually improves the customer experience.

It is definitely possible to reduce costs and improve customer service at the same time. The key is to look at processes and communications: Where is the poor quality? There’s a cost to poor quality. Where are the complaints? There’s a cost to address those. Where is there a lack of standardization? There’s financial benefit to moving to best practice. Where are the redundancies? There’s savings from eliminating waste.

Learn a little from these water works – focus on process and communications to reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction.

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