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 – Look Internally to Ensure Satisfying Externally

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

With the proliferation of relatively inexpensive online customer satisfaction survey solutions (at least for web-based surveys), there has thankfully been more of a tendency for organizations to ask customers about their experiences. This first-hand feedback can be very helpful for businesses in understanding customer perceptions and preferences.

But organizations can’t be so focused on just getting feedback from customers (those external to the organization) that they ignore many of the internal measures of operations that drive the customer’s (dis)satisfaction.

In the article City, county teaming up to speed land-use permits, Fort Wayne and Allen County governments were recognized for working well together on a new online land-use permitting system. According to the article, “The system will allow developers to track their projects online. It will also help city and county employees track their performance and understand where in the process applications are getting stalled. The system will chart a permit’s progress from department to department. If it is held up too long in one department, the system will red-flag it, and a computer-generated letter will be sent to the applicant.”

The system was developed – in part – to improve customer service. And a large part of that improvement will be driven by the organization looking at internal performance reports that are impacting speed of service processes for external customers.

When you review your customer satisfaction/service performance metrics, think beyond those surveys that customers complete. To truly improve customer service, you have to have effective measures of internal operational performance that impacts service delivery to customers.

Look internally to ensure you’re satisfying externally.

Interested in improving your organization’s customer service? See our other blog posts at: http://serviceadvice.cssamerica.com/category/government/

Learn about our CSS Government services at: http://cssamerica.com/cssgovt.htm


City Gets at the Root of Water Shut-off Issues

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

“If they would just read their mail…”

This is a statement I hear from a lot of clients when talking about their customers (oftentimes, it’s “if they would just read their e-mails…”). The problem with the statement is that it can put the entire blame for an issue on the customer, when businesses need to be asking “What can we control? What can we impact?”

Staff at the City of Marysville were having an issue. The number of water shutoffs was increasing each week – up to 80-100 from half that number. This was driving more work for the staff and obviously irate feelings from City residents. The City initially blamed the economy and an auto-dialer notification system that didn’t work with cell phones, but that was just a theory. And to more permanently fix a problem, you need to determine the root cause.

To get at the root cause, they asked the customers about the issue. Customers thought they hadn’t received the bill even though they had received it. The problem was that the bill looked just like any other document – non-descript. The shut-off warnings were also non-descript. So how do you remedy this? An article on the story notes “The UB Team discussed several options to remedy this, and eventually settled on a cycle of three bills in different colors during the standard bi-monthly billing period: first a white notice, followed by a pink late notice for past due, then a yellow shutoff notice that warned that water would be shut off if payment wasn’t completed or arrangements made with the Utility Billing Department.”

The number of shut-offs now average under 30 per month.

When you have an issue, don’t assume the root cause and solution. Don’t immediately blame the customer, even if you communicated to them. The question is – did they notice, understand, and act on the communication? If not, what’s within your control to improve communications?

You can’t control the customer; but don’t use that as an excuse for not looking at your own options for improvement.

Interested in improving your organization’s customer service? See our other blog posts at: http://serviceadvice.cssamerica.com/category/government/

Learn about our CSS Government services at: http://cssamerica.com/cssgovt.htm


Be Alert to BRE Red Flags

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Imagine that you’re a Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) professional. You target certain businesses locally to get to know, develop good relationships with them, and yet “things happen” with them that catch you off-guard. They announce they’re leaving, they’re downsizing, or they won’t renew their lease.

You wonder “Why didn’t I know about this sooner?”

Part of being great at BRE requires that BRE professionals get to know what’s going on OUTSIDE the area that can affect local industries. For example, CSS monitors business intelligence for BRE organizations, and noted below are examples of information that applies to our clients’ industries. Assume that “Company ABC” is one of your key local businesses:

  • Company ABC Appoints Two Key Executives to New Leadership Positions
  • Company ABC recalls key product
  • Company ABC Completes Purchase of Key Competitor
  • Company ABC expands its campus with purchase of 16 acres…in another State
  • Company ABC to close plant (in a different region of the country)
  • Company ABC starts hiring freeze after slower sales
  • Company ABC cuts hundreds of jobs, pays millions in dividends
  • Other jurisdiction approves incentives to help lure Company ABC
  • Company ABC to be purchased for about $229 million
  • Competing jurisdiction to sweeten the incentive pot to attract Company ABC.

A strong BRE professional will know how to utilize information about what was taking place outside his/her region.

With this business intelligence, would you be able to be proactive in communications with local constituents? Would you be able to predict risk and opportunities earlier? Would you be able to impact business decisions?

Your answers should be Yes, Yes, Yes!

An important part of any BRE strategy is to be able to predict what could happen with your local businesses by staying abreast of what factors OUTSIDE your jurisdiction could be impacting your clients.

Be Alert to BRE Red Flags.

Check out our BRE intelligence-building service at http://brebuzz.com/.