Government | Customer Service Solutions, Inc. - Page 5

When You Can’t Say “Yes to the Address” - 2/7/23


I was interviewing a frontline staff person for one of our local government clients recently as part of our CSS Training Development Process.  They described their customers and the difficult situations that they face, their tougher conversations with customers. This individual supports local events, so there’s a lot of planning involved.  Read more

How to Fix Other People’s Problems - 1/31/23


I was helping a friend navigate some healthcare processes recently, so I conducted a 3-way call with my friend and the physician practice to try to get things cleared up.  The employee I spoke with on the phone - let’s call her Katie. There had been poor communication between different Read more

What to do When You’re in the Middle - 1/24/23


Bob and Sarah are arguing, and you’re in the middle.  Bob’s an employee, and Sarah is a customer, and they have a difference of opinion.  Somehow you’re involved even though you didn’t have anything to do with the interaction in question, the complaint being addressed.  You find yourself being Read more

Is the Customer Issue an Organizational Issue? - 1/17/23


Customer retention is vital.  Most of next year’s customers are going to be those who are this year’s customers. So, the more you lose today, the fewer you will have tomorrow.  Organizations conduct research, data mine, or bring in consultants to help identify those customers who may be most Read more

Decide Who’s Driving the Bus - 1/10/23


I once heard a speech titled: Who’s driving the bus? I knew the speaker beforehand, so that made his talk extra special.  It was funny and relatable and held many words of wisdom.  The crux of the speech was that every one of us has our own facets, our own Read more

Create a Personal Vision for the Year - 1/3/23


This time of year is all about the New Year’s resolution.  We’re going to exercise or eat differently!  Then…2 months later, who knows what’ll be happening, but at least you set a goal.  For many of us, that’s progress. For businesses, that New Year’s resolution often has to deal with Read more

Avoid Making a Bad Situation Worse - 12/27/22


Twitter.  When you hear that word, does your temperature rise?  Do you roll your eyes?  Do you ask: What is Twitter? From a customer service perspective, Twitter has evolved into a virtual place for consumers to complain about businesses.  For those businesses savvy enough to understand the importance of communicating Read more

2022 Holiday Poem - 12/20/22


The year is winding down. The work is still up front. We’re making that transition to close out the 12th month. We’re trying to find a balance between personal life and work. Trying to be kind to people even if they’re acting like a jerk. It’s taking all of our patience and our Read more

Open Minds and Ornery Customers - 12/13/22


We all have to deal with some crazy customers, at times.  They might be loud or sad.  Flighty or mad.  They may have unrealistic expectations or think it’s OK to skip past people in line because their need must be more important than the others.  Some are rude, some Read more

Apply These Values for Great Customer Service - 12/6/22


One of the industries where we do a lot of our work is local government.  These CSS clients are not necessarily selling a product or having the number of competitors that a lot of our private industry clients and our sports clients face.  But they need to deliver a 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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Go Back to Where You Started in Business Retention & Expansion

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Have you ever been deep into a conversation and then stopped, and tried to backtrack step-by-step to see how you got there?

The back-tracking can go something like this: We’re talking about the recent national elections because we were discussing local political elections because we were discussing a nearby zoning issue because we were discussing the property that adjoins our neighborhood because we were discussing putting a fence in the backyard because we were discussing getting a dog because we were discussing how much fun we have with a friend’s dog because we were discussing the dog’s name Pete because…well…you get the picture. We were talking about a dog named Pete, and we ended up talking about the recent national elections.

For an Economic Development organization’s Business Retention & Expansion (BRE) Program, it’s often helpful to do the same sort of exercise – not just to have fun, and not necessarily in a conversation, but about the life of the BRE program. Frequently, relatively young organizations (particularly those under 10 years in business), find themselves at a certain place, and they’ve evolved to that place. They may have had a grand plan to start with, but over time the strategic planning ended and the day-to-day fire-fighting and daily operations took over. And a great question to ask at that point is this: If we had to start this organization over again, how would it look different than it is today?

A great way to answer that question is to go back to the start of the BRE Program. Consider what were the initial goals, the initial focuses, the initial planned allocation of time and resources. How do those goals/focuses/time allocations differ from the reality of today?

The recent article City announces business retention program gives us some of that view of the start. These are some of the highlights from the article:

  • Use the BRE program to better know specific needs from specific companies.
  • Set as a goal of the BRE program to help businesses make profits and grow.
  • Leverage the BRE program to proactively identify growth opportunities and business issues.
  • Promote with local businesses the desire to keep them and have them hire and invest more locally.
  • Target key companies and businesses.
  • Look for macro-issues that impact multiple businesses – have a coordinated effort to address the concerns.
  • Don’t be an island – create a stakeholder system to support research, relationship development, retention, and ongoing funding.
  • Identify dedicated resources for the BRE program.

I’m not suggesting that what we do today is wrong, but what I am suggesting is sometimes it helps to refocus, and a great way to do that is to look at the initial plans, goals, and strategies. Then use those as a guide to redirect and refocus current efforts.

To reenergize your program and reallocate your time, go back to where you started in Business Retention & Expansion.

See more BRE blog posts at: http://brebuzz.com/bre-blog-posts/


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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