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

Customer Service of the Future…in Government

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

About 1/3rd of the most memorable customer service encounters in government are negative. Does that number seem low? Well keep in mind that the statistic was taken from a survey of employees of Federal, State, and Local governments, and even the sub-50% number from employees still isn’t positive.

But this GovLoop survey was more focused on the future than the past. And many of these employees are optimistic about the future because of some key trends they see developing including “Self-service opportunities, from grocery store kiosks to online applications, will allow citizens to access, process and monitor their government requests on a more widespread and frequent basis. Citizen engagement and partnership efforts that empower citizens will also become more prevalent. Mobile applications, increased social media interactions and the expansion of live, online chats also will radically change the way government delivers services in the next five to ten years.”

So these are the trends to anticipate, and the question becomes, What does this mean to the typical local government or employee? Here are three key takeaways:

  • Here Comes Proliferation. More service channels for the taxpayer mean more complexity, more need to monitor standardization of information and the experience, more staff training, and more metrics to gauge and improve performance. More, more, more infrastructure, training, and monitoring.
  • Calling All Techies! Tech-savvy employees will be a requirement, not a nice-to-have, and most local governments won’t be able to have separate divisions/departments dedicated to separate service channels because staffing is too small. Therefore, many staff will have to learn to be jacks-of-all-trades (responding to e-mail requests, social media complaints, calls, web issues, and potentially onsite visits – all in the same day).
  • Teach the Citizens Well. “Self-Service” means that the customer can do for themselves. This requires a mindset and intentional planning and work to train citizens on how to do for themselves. It’s the proverbial teach them to fish, but the fish they’re catching is information, or a recycle bin, or compost, or an inspection, or a tax payment, or a reservation at a park shelter. For Self-Service to succeed, we need to serve as a teacher to inform, educate on what they can do and how to do it.

With variety comes complexity, and with a greater tech emphasis comes the search for people who can blend a technology skill set and a customer service mindset.

Get ready for the future of government customer service.

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Give Customer Service Some Definition

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

In the article New city administration sets priorities at day-long planning session, El Paso city officials met to identify 2014 goals. According to the article, “Customer service emerged as a key focus, for the new administration, during the planning session. The city’s mission statement says that it is ‘dedicated to outstanding customer service for a better El Paso.’ City Representative Larry Romero added that part of the city’s duty in providing high customer service is first identifying the priorities and levels of service needed. Deputy city manager Jane Shang said the city needs to revaluate and change processes to streamline city government and, ‘deliver services quicker and better.’

Based on those points, here are some nuggets for any business to consider:

  • A Mission Defines Your Daily Purpose. Use the Mission to guide your planning efforts. Are you aligning your plans to your Foundation Statements (Mission, Vision, Values)?
  • Define “Customer Service” for Your Organization. Customer service is a general term, so is it defined as the employee attitudes, systems, processes, facilities, or something else?
  • Define Where You Want to be GREAT! Don’t strive for perfection in everything – there have to be priorities set. Are you going to delight the customers with your attitudes, systems, processes, AND facilities? If so, do you have an unlimited budget?
  • Define Your Customer Service Standards. Where you don’t have an unlimited budget, define bare minimum expectations. If we’re not going to have facilities that resemble the Ritz-Carlton, what is at least a minimum expectation?

Whether you work for a municipality or not, to create a focus for your customer service initiatives, give customer service some definition.

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Customer Service Wisdom from a Retiree-to-be

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

When you retire, you get reflective. And with reflection, you sometimes come up with nuggets – words of wisdom.

Brenda Fraser is a County employee retiring from 37 years of service, and in the article Face of Hernando County government says customer service, good hires were keys to success, she addresses some of the difficulties in serving customers as a local government employee. Fraser noted that “The hardest part of her job has been ‘communicating to people when it was something that was not positive, communicating that the county really does care. We understand there is a problem. We’re not being cavalier.’ Frazier said she knows, from her view on the inside, that county employees care and work hard. That has made the last few years difficult, she said, as employees have been the subject of public criticism — at a time when many also feared they could lose their jobs because of budget cuts.”

There’s several key points in those words:

  • First, when something’s not positive, you must communicate with the customer about it; also, it pays to be proactive so you can have some control over what’s discussed, where and how.
  • Second, don’t just do a task for a customer and expect them to know you care. Most customers want to be treated as something that’s far more than a cog on your assembly line; therefore, you have to think beyond the task; you have to convey you care about the person for whom you’re doing the task.
  • Third, we need to be empathetic with staff. When constantly preaching about the need for great customer service that they need to deliver to customers, we have to understand that their morale impacts their attitude. Leaders need to take ownership over their role in keeping morale and spirits high since employee feelings will flow to the customers.

When you think about how to deliver great service, remember to be proactive, communicate that you care, and be a spirit-builder with staff.

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