municipal | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

“You’re the Boss” - 2/20/24


Terrence is excellent at what he does.  From a technical standpoint, he knows how to keep the facility clean.  He’s the lead custodian, and he knows that keeping things straight does not necessarily mean keeping things sanitary.  He knows what chemicals to use and not to use, how to Read more

Customer Understanding Leads to Relationship Growth - 2/13/24


We’ve worked with educational organizations at all grade levels over the years.  One special and unique characteristic about the staff who work in these organizations is that there’s a clear intent to know about the students as individuals, to focus on them rather than purely focusing on what’s delivered Read more

Define Customer Service Success Differently - 2/6/24


When I’m watching television, listening to the radio, or listening to a podcast, it’s always interesting when the topic moves to the question:  How can you be a success?  The speakers often discuss the process of becoming a success with the assumption that people believe success is defined by Read more

Care Enough to Give Them a Heads Up - 1/30/24


Nothing bad at all might happen.  Every day in the office could seem like every other day.  Sights and sounds and smells might continue to be the same.  But we have a lot of construction going on around our offices, and the building manager knows the type of work Read more

Be Better than AI Customer Service - 1/23/24


There was a recent CBS Sunday Morning Show story called: How artificial intelligence is revamping customer call centers. The journalist described how artificial intelligence is being used in customer service, and he noted the millions of pieces of information that can be processed in a matter of seconds. There are clear Read more

Recognize the Situation, and Pivot - 1/16/24


The customer has a complaint, or they may have an important question about an order or their account.  You may be talking to them in an emergency room, in the lobby of the government building, on the phone, or in a video conversation.  And in many of these Moments Read more

Sharpen Your Service Delivery - 1/9/24


You work so hard at being responsive and providing high quality information.  You work hard at fixing problems.  But is your delivery…dull? I’m not saying that it has to be exciting, but let’s think of the word “exciting.”  It means that something’s interesting, has energy, is positive.  Just by its Read more

Make Empathy Your Superpower - 1/2/24


I was facilitating a Service Excellence Training class for a Higher Ed client in the Northeast several years back.  As I was walking through the portions of our technique for defusing the angry customer, I talked about empathy.  I talked about accepting responsibility. Immediately, one of the hands in the Read more

Holiday Poem 2023 - 12/26/23


The days are getting longer, The skies are getting brighter. Festivities behind us, And festivities before us.   There’s ups and downs and change coming, And we can’t predict when or where. There’s challenges and joys and opportunities around, Of which you may or may not be aware.   But one thing we know as we look at each Read more

Refresh, Rejuvenate, Refocus - 12/19/23


It’s that time of year.  We’re going 100 miles an hour, and holiday time is upon us.  We not only have all the work to do, but we somehow have less time to do it.  We somehow have other things that are of competing interest, and even though those Read more

Change City Culture by Doing This…and What Else?

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Blog 12-2-14In the recent WTOC story City Council discusses budget, customer service, the City of Savannah is highlighted for their initiative to change the culture of the organization. They plan to setup rate-your-service kiosks and put everyone through customer service training. While these are positive actions to take, there has to be more, right?

When you think about a culture, you think about “how things work around here,” you think about how decisions are made, how relationships work, how communications flow, what it’s really like to work at the City of Savannah. So what impacts that?

The organization’s Mission, Vision, and Core Values impact that; leadership has the biggest impact on that culture. Reward/recognition systems, accountability based on well-documented and well-communicated customer service standards impact that culture. The organizational structure, workflow processes, who and how they hire, and internal and external communications impact culture. And yes, measurement is important, but how are they creating a consistent dialogue with residents to truly know and act on the “Voice of the Customer?”

Too many organizations take an approach to changing culture that is like putting new tires on your car; the new tires make the car look a little fresher and shinier, but they haven’t impacted what truly makes the car go.

When you are looking to change culture, realize that you’re about to undertake something important, something big!

Take a comprehensive approach to culture change.

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The Customer Service Rep Stuck Inside the Robot

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Blog 10-13-14Usually I can share an insightful “lesson learned” from customer service stories on the web, but this one is too little weird to evaluate; yet, it’s interesting enough to share.

In the article Robot makes big bang at Indy airport, you can see a picture of a robot that circulates baggage claim at the Indianapolis International Airport with an iPad on top showing the face of a guest services employee. The robot is fashionably dressed in a blue golf shirt and a lavaliere that I assume has his/her/its (?) name badge.

You can’t make this stuff up!

The idea is to bring customer service to the customers instead of their having to go upstairs to the guest services department. I’m reaching for any other benefit, but I’m sure someone creative will begin incorporating printing functionality on the robot, baggage handling, child watching, and coffee dispensing among the many other uses of the robot.

I’m not certain why they couldn’t put an actual person there instead of a robot (except for the “off hours” opportunity where staff could work remotely through the robot while guest services is closed), but the concept is interesting.

Share this post, and offer your thoughts “socially” – How could this robot best be used?

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In Government, Do You Want Good Customer Service or Low Costs?

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

Blog 3-19-14Quality, Price, Service – Select any 2.

This is the sign that supposedly hangs (or hung) in dry cleaners across the country. The point is, you can’t have all 3, so figure out – essentially – what you DON’T want.

In the world of customer service, organizations often have a similar question – Do we want good customer service or low costs?

This is based on the assumption that you can’t have great customer service without increasing costs. The recent article Water operations review in GA county seeks cost savings, customer service improvements notes how one Georgia county is trying to do both.

The DeKalb County Department of Watershed Management (DWM) has hired a consulting firm to evaluate organizational efficiencies, but in doing so also improve customer service. There isn’t a great deal of detail in the article, but you can glean some of the strategy by what’s included in the article: “The partnership is also expected to improve customer service and reduce wait times for customers. A thorough review of the utility’s administration, planning, operations, maintenance and capital programs, customer service, and billing and collections will also occur.”

To improve customer service, one key is to view customer service as the composition of the employee attitudes and the service processes. More standardized, high-quality processes often are more efficient and result in less rework, fewer complaints to address, and higher productivity. This equates to lower cost.

The review of multiple departments suggests that they’re looking from a structure and process perspective to find inefficiencies in internal processes, internal communications, and communications about customer needs/issues. Streamlining internal processes often results in improved efficiency, and designing processes and customer communications to be better coordinated usually improves the customer experience.

It is definitely possible to reduce costs and improve customer service at the same time. The key is to look at processes and communications: Where is the poor quality? There’s a cost to poor quality. Where are the complaints? There’s a cost to address those. Where is there a lack of standardization? There’s financial benefit to moving to best practice. Where are the redundancies? There’s savings from eliminating waste.

Learn a little from these water works – focus on process and communications to reduce costs and increase customer satisfaction.

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