In the article Report: IRS customer service lacking, the author shares the woes that customers/taxpayers have when working to get questions answered and issues resolved. And while many people have heard customer service horror stories about the IRS, what’s most interesting about how the article is constructed is that the premise of poor customer service is based on data.
Only about 33% of callers can get through to the IRS. Call hold time tripled from 2010 to 2015.
The IRS complained that this was due to budget cuts and increased demand for services because of Obamacare and other initiatives. And while all that may be true about the Federal Government, there is a lesson for every business as well.
What are those true operational measures that are indicators of customer service performance? What if you identified those internal measures and (gasp) had to report them publicly? I’m not talking about “97% customer satisfaction” as Geico touts. I’m talking about real objective internal measures that get at processes and quality.
What is the hold time, the abandon rate, and likelihood of being transferred? What is the quality of information provided in written correspondence, and how long does it take to get to the customer? What did your business tell the customer to do and in what timeframe, and did it meet those expectations? What is the reality of your customer experience as viewed through a Mystery Shopping Program, and did the Shop results mirror what management THOUGHT was the real customer experience?
Take a step back, and imagine if all your internal metrics were made public. How would it make your business look to the customer…and to your competitors?
Put your measures and your customer experience through this reality check to find opportunities to raise your customer service performance.
Interested in improving your customer experience? Visit the Customer Service Solutions website.
I know, I know – Government customer service is an oxymoron – I’ve heard the joke often, but I’ve worked with too many local government organizations to believe it’s true. The reasons it’s difficult to deliver great customer service typically fall into 3 buckets:
- The easiest way to change a culture is to change the people, and it’s often very difficult to change staff in local government
- A key to creating a particular desired culture is to have rewards and recognition (i.e., incentives) for staff who exhibit the needed behaviors and attitudes; many governments have policies and budgets that greatly limit such rewards
- Many local government agencies are enforcing code, ordinances, laws, and regulations. It’s hard for the customer to feel great in situations when you’re telling them “no.”
I’m sharing these obstacles to great local government customer service because they’re a reality…but they’re also an excuse.
The Orillia City Government has been working on its continuous improvement strategy, focusing largely on customer service. According to the article City expanding customer-service focus, the City approved a customer service strategy in May that included the following components:
- Continuous monitoring of customer satisfaction and feedback;
- Exploring ways to expand access to services online;
- Exploring opportunities to offer expanded payment options;
- Establishing a dedicated customer-service team, comprised of staff from each city department, to monitor and receive feedback on the city’s customer-service practices;
- Reviewing options to provide general reception on the first floor of the Orillia City Centre;
- The implementation of corporate-wide customer-service standards to ensure consistent levels of service in all departments and locations;
- Expansion of the city’s website to offer more information regarding the appropriate staff contact for all areas of the corporation; and
- Regular customer-service training for staff.
Review your organization’s customer service strategy. Does it include research, broader service delivery vehicles, dedicated customer service resources, facility navigation, standards development, and training?
Review your strategy if you want to move it forward in a more comprehensive way. Learn from Orillia’s strategic orientation toward customer service.
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In the article Hospital shows improved patient satisfaction, the author highlights a hospital that is using key strategies to drive up patient satisfaction. And in hearing Ivision Memorial Hospital leaders describe the approach, one starts to draw conclusions. Here are some quotes:
What we do is we get a group of people from all aspects related to that process, get them in a room for four days and really give them the leeway to fix the problem.
We’re firm believers that the people who know the work are the best ones to fix it.
Next year’s score card goals are set to change, some of which are based on staff suggestions.
What we’re really going to push in this next year is something we call our bright idea program. The idea is that we give staff a way to improve their work.
Did you catch the theme? The CEO and Chief Quality and Strategy Officer are constantly talking about using the voice of the employee to drive improvements. Whether it be on an improvement team or through an employee suggestion system, the best ideas to improve the patient experience are coming from those closest to the patient on a daily basis.
Leaders must chart the vision and set the strategy in most organizations, but the employees are the ones often with the best ideas on how to execute the ideas and improve patient satisfaction.
Create a patient satisfaction improvement strategy where the employee’s voice rises up for the benefit of the patient.
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