municipal

Challenges Create Opportunity, People Create Change - 4/20/21


There are so many great things that have been said over the years about overcoming challenges, pushing aside the roadblocks of life, dealing with difficulties.  And these are important points of discussion because challenges are all around us.  There are challenges with our personal health or in our personal Read more

The Passive Predicament - 4/13/21


The employee is speaking to you.  Do they have that look in the eyes like they’re hanging on your every word, like they’re processing, interpreting, and getting ready to quickly respond to your key points and questions?  Or do they have the look of somebody in the 2nd hour Read more

Regain Lost Motivation - 4/6/21


For many of us over the last 12 months, our home has also become our workplace.  Our work interaction has been 2-dimensional through the computer screen as opposed to the 3-dimensional experiences we’re used to with co-workers and customers. We are all motivated in our own unique ways.  Some are Read more

The Answer is Right, but the Service is Wrong - 3/30/21


Maggie was irate.  The gift she ordered needed to be received by the 20th of the month so she could give it to her cousin for his birthday.  It was the 19th, and Maggie couldn’t find any shipping update online, so she called the company.  The employee said “Oh!  Read more

Question Everything, but What’s the Question? - 3/23/21


The new leader joins the organization, and she decides she wants to question everything.  She wants employees to question everything.  Why have we always done it this way? Why do we continue to do it that way? Is this the best way to work? Sometimes it’s a great management Read more

The Resourceful Rep - 3/16/21


One of our clients is seeking to develop Customer Service Standards.  We’re working with them to identify those key expectations of staff that will enable the organization to deliver a consistent high-level customer experience.  One of the key attributes that this organization is seeking from its team members is Read more

Be Proactive like a Pro - 3/9/21


We constantly work with clients, encouraging them to become more proactive with customers.  Don’t just be reactive, waiting for the customer to ask questions or to complain.  Instead, go to the customer, anticipate their needs, suggest something to them. But many of us, frankly, don’t know how to be proactive.  Read more

Find One Unique Thing - 3/2/21


Many of us are not in a position to develop long-term relationships with our customers.  Our encounters are often one-time only with a customer - very brief and likely to be our only time chatting with this individual. And even though there may not be a long-term professional relationship developed, Read more

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 Be the Best, You Have to Know the Best

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Mr. Floyd had always been an effective program manager in his local county government. However, as the financial stresses and strains resulting from the poor economy started to hit his area, he was being pushed harder and harder and harder to improve productivity and better manage costs. Even though these performance areas were expected to be addressed in a positive way, the expectation was that customer satisfaction would not deteriorate.

So Mr. Floyd had to look at his metrics, and figure out new ways to do things. He was being forced to look at data he had never been too concerned with before, including call center performance, average handle time, abandoned call rates, and customer wait times. When he looked at this data, the performance looked like it had not gotten much better or worse over time. He felt good about it. That was before his heart-to-heart talk with his boss.

Mr. Floyd’s new boss felt that although these statistics looked good to Mr. Floyd and had not deteriorated over time, his boss’ question was what is the level of performance that should be achieved? In other words, what is the goal? Mr. Floyd determined that continuing the current performance in the future would be a great goal, but his boss disagreed. His boss said that the goal should be based on what the customer wants and expects. In private industry, the customer expects the call be picked up in 60 seconds, or they’ll abandon the call.  In private industry, therefore, the companies expect a 2 to 4% abandon call rate. So regardless of past performance in Mr. Floyd’s department, future performance metrics will be based on customer expectations.

Mr. Floyd made a common error that people in many industries make every year. They focus more on performance trends than on setting goals that drive you towards best practice performance. When you’re setting those performance goals, don’t set them purely based on how you performed historically. Don’t base them on other entities exactly like you — in Mr. Floyd’s case, this would be other County municipal departments which are just like his department. Instead, base your goals on the best.

Maybe he should have step goals that will lead to the best practice level performance, but he needs to know best practice if he wants to continuously improve and — someday — be the best.

Look outside your business, outside your industry to identify what is best. Then start moving in that direction.

Interested in improving your company’s customer service?  See more information at:  http://www.cssamerica.com/


Don’t Be Afraid to Ask the Tough Questions

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

We have worked with several business retention and expansion organizations (BRE) that support local municipalities and economic development associations over the years.  These BRE groups are charged with trying to retain and grow local jobs.  In order to be successful, these organizations need to have some information in advance of what could happen to local jobs, of what could happen to local facilities, of what could happen to local employers.

So with our BRE clients, we suggest that they conduct surveys, if possible, on an annual basis. These surveys are either online, via the telephone, or via in-person interviews where local business leaders 1-on-1 are providing information. The information they provide to the BRE staff includes their thoughts on the local business climate, trends in their industry, and their current company’s financial performance. But one key set of questions that also needs to be included relates to business retention. In other words, if you are a business retention and expansion organization wanting to be proactive in retaining and growing local jobs, you need to have intelligence that enables you to look into the future.

Every survey, every tool, every instrument that is trying to garner intelligence for BRE organizations needs to make sure it is asking the basic and tough questions that it should:

  • How likely is the business to relocate in the next 12 months?
  • What leadership changes are expected over the next 1 to 2 years?
  • If facilities are leased, will those leases come due in the next 12 months?
  • Are you being recruited right now by other municipalities?
  • What change in the number of jobs are you expecting locally over the next 12 months?

If organizations truly want to live their core mission, they need to be willing to ask the tough questions.

Interested in improving your company’s customer service?  See more information at:  http://www.cssamerica.com/


Know the Needle You are Trying to Move

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

For governmental enterprises, there oftentimes are services being provided for which there is little or no competition such as:  How somebody applies for food stamps. What the process is for somebody to pay their annual business taxes. What needs to be done to change an address on a vehicle that somebody owns.

These are all services or processes that government agencies deliver in which they have no competition.

In most organizations outside of the public sector, a strong reason to try to improve your customer service is because it leads to higher client retention and helps to stave off the competition. But in some government agencies the question can be asked “why do we need to care about customer service, since we have no competition?”

If that question is even being asked, then it is probably because you have a management team that does a horrible job of conveying the importance of customer service to its employees. But that’s a topic of another blog posting. For today, let’s talk about why customer service matters to government. First of all, customer service is not just about the smiles and the eye contact. Customer service is also about process.  And anybody who understands great customer service realizes that the most efficient and effective processes typically accomplish both goals of saving the organization money and delivering a high quality, consistent experience to the customer. So the first reason to care about customer service is to realize that by delivering service in a highly effective way for the customer, organizations typically also provide more cost-effective delivery of services.

Let’s also look at it from a positive side relating to employee attitudes. Employee attitudes are another characteristic of customer service along with processes. Much of how a customer feels about their experience is related to the attitudes of the employees who engage them.

As an employee, if you think about working in a department that has horrible customer service, you’d envision yourself dealing with constantly complaining customers, having to deal with waiting rooms where there is a huge backlog of customers, having too much work to do in the time to do it, and having slow manual processes to work with to deliver those services. Everybody in your department is putting out their own fires, so they won’t help you; other departments are too focused on themselves, so they won’t help you either. It’s an environment that if you work there, your stress would be high, your workload would seem to be increasing, there would seem to be no flow to the work, people would be saying nasty things about you or your department, and your co-workers would be testy when interacting with you. It would be a lousy work environment.

But imagine working in an environment where the processes were very efficient, and things got done right the first time. Imagine that the customers only had to fill out their information once and that the waits were shorter, and therefore the complaints were fewer. Imagine knowing how to deal with irate customers because you’ve gone through some great customer service training, so you’re very comfortable in those situations.  Imagine people saying great things about your department and thanking you for your service.  And imagine your co-workers and other departments jumping in to help and being sincerely supportive of you and having great attitudes when working with you.

There is a personal benefit to great customer service. This applies in any industry, but it’s especially important to talk about and understand in the government sector.

Move the customer service needle to improve your organization’s efficiencies, the customer experience, and your own personal work environment.

Interested in improving your company’s customer service?  See more information at:  http://www.cssamerica.com/


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