Government | Customer Service Solutions, Inc. - Page 8

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

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/.