Government | Customer Service Solutions, Inc. - Page 8

When Passive Voice is a Good Thing - 8/9/22


It’s all your fault, Mr. Customer! We may want to shout it from the rooftops, but other than venting and absolving ourselves of guilt, this wouldn’t help much in the grand scheme of things. We have a customer sitting in front of us or on the phone, and maybe they are Read more

They’re Stressed, So You Can… - 8/2/22


Wow!  That customer looks stressed!  Maybe it’s their body language or their expressions; they could be fidgety or talking really fast. In the past, when we offered guidance in these situations, we focused on how to navigate the conversation step-by-step - what points to cover and what points to avoid. But Read more

Find the Hidden Compliment - 7/26/22


The fact is, they ARE complaining:  The room is too cold.  The wait is too long.  They wish the parking spaces were bigger.  The new app doesn’t have a mapping function.  They cannot pay with their phone.  The website is unclear. In these types of complaints, the ones that are Read more

When You Know More Than They Do - 7/19/22


It was 95 degrees outside.  That’s not too bad when you’re inside and enjoying the air conditioning; but when Rachel’s A/C went out, in came Rachel’s worry.  Luckily, she knew the company to call, and a technician from Acme HVAC (fake name, real company) came out the next morning. Rachel Read more

Investigate for FACTS - 7/12/22


Sometimes the issues that we deal with don’t have an immediate resolution.  There’s unknown information and conflicting stories.  Many individuals are involved, or possibly whoever is involved is not available.  You have to investigate. For situations where you have to be clear on what occurred, make sure you’re gathering all Read more

Become a Great Teacher - 7/5/22


Are you one of those people who really liked school?  School is always made more enjoyable by great teachers and professors. Do you love sports?  Many coaches in football and basketball, in hockey and baseball view themselves as teachers…teaching the game they love to their team. True leadership is about growing Read more

Don’t Assume Their Motivation - 6/28/22


The company was instituting new human resources policies aimed at holding employees accountable for being late to work.  Employee lateness had been rising, and management wanted to make sure they reinforced the need for people to be on time. At a meeting to roll out the new policies, a leader Read more

It’s Not Always About the Outcome - 6/21/22


We want the satisfied customer.  We want the issue resolved.  We want to be able to fix the error or save the client.  We want to feel good coming out of a conversation, or feel like we have accomplished something special.  We want the “win win.” But all those great Read more

Ask: What is your goal? - 6/14/22


Through these Tips, we’ve shared our technique about how to meet the customer’s need right the first time.  It’s a conversation – a give and take with the customer where you hone in on what their true need or concern is, seeking more clarity to more quickly get to Read more

Make it Sincerely Yours - 6/7/22


I’d like to hear more.  I’m sorry about the situation.  Resolving your issue is important to me.  We appreciate your business.  Thank you for bringing this to my attention. These phrases are generally well-received depending on the situation.  But we want to make sure when we’re speaking to others that Read more

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


Give Your BRE Plan a Check-up

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Let’s do some BRE benchmarking. As a business retention/expansion executive, you probably know what your job is on a daily basis – the mission/purpose of your role, your part of the economic development organization. But what are the big picture long-term goals and objectives?

It’s easier to achieve a goal, if you’ve effectively identified the goal, planned the process, and measured progress. Noted below are Objectives/Purposes/Goals taken from three BRE planning documents. Compare your organization to these samples:

Hugo Business Retention and Expansion Research Report

  • To demonstrate support for local businesses
  • To help solve immediate business concerns
  • To increase local businesses’ ability to compete in the global economy
  • To establish and implement a strategic plan for economic development
  • To build community capacity to sustain growth and development

Entergy Business Retention and Expansion Guide

  • To demonstrate to existing firms that the community appreciates their contribution to the local economy
  • To encourage expansion that leads to sustainable job growth
  • To help businesses solve their problems and challenges
  • To assist local businesses in gaining awareness of available resources
  • To develop collaborative relationships for participating in comprehensive long-range retention and expansion activities
  • To build the community capacity and cooperation to sustain growth and development activities
  • To provide better information and understanding for all local leaders of the strengths and weaknesses of the business climate

City of Shoreview Business Retention and Expansion Strategic Plan

  • Support business development that increases the tax base and adds quality jobs
  • Retain quality businesses by creating a positive economic environment that supports and fosters business expansion in the community
  • Plan for and pursue redevelopment opportunities consistent with City goals
  • Promote reinvestment in the community by directing time and financial resources to pre-determined business and neighborhood targets
  • Strive to meet the needs and demands of the community for specific services

Where are the gaps in your organization’s goals that you need to fill based on what these other BRE programs emphasize. How will you plan (strategically) the process to achieve the goals? How will you measure your progression toward the goals?

Make sure your BRE program isn’t simply about making visits and resolving issues. There’s got to be a strategic component. There’s got to be ongoing research on the clients even when you are not face-to-face with them. There’s got to be the goal, the long-term plan, and the measurements of progress.

Give your BRE Plan a check-up.

Learn more about keeping up-to-date on your local businesses at http://brebuzz.com/


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/.