municipal | Customer Service Solutions, Inc.

The New Burger Experience - 7/16/24


Floyd loves a good hamburger. Any chance he gets to try a new spin on an old standby, he takes it. Recently, a burger joint opened near his house, and Floyd was very excited! It was owned by and named for a world-renowned chef, so it had to be Read more

Boost Customer Happiness - 7/9/24


There’s a cooking show that a friend of mine watches, and the premise is all about reverse engineering food.  They may take a Reese’s Peanut Butter Cup, analyze it, and determine the ingredients just by tasting it.  Then they figure out a recipe.  The cook will try to make Read more

Brainstorm to Better Yourself - 7/2/24


I’ve led enough sessions with clients on continuous improvement topics to have solid experience on how to lead ideation exercises, brainstorming to develop new ideas.  Oftentimes these sessions start with the right question; the first answers may not be the ultimate solution, but they can serve as a jumping Read more

The Power of the Pause - 6/25/24


When I’m facilitating a meeting, and it feels like it’s going off-track or the discussion is going a little longer than it should, I may say something like “let me pause the conversation so that…” or “let’s pause just for a minute and consider…” I don’t like the word STOP. Read more

Handle Interruptions Heroically - 6/18/24


In the middle of a project, Jimbo, the customer service team member, had to stop what he was doing because he received an e-mail from a customer complaining about their experience at a recent event. Later that day, Jimbo was asked by his boss to put everything on hold for Read more

From Employees to Teammates: The Shift - 6/11/24


Be a great teammate. Be a good team player. We’re all part of the team. We’re no longer employees, we’re team members! The phrase “Team” is used in describing co-workers so much more than it was used years ago.  Then, we would be talking about employees, talking about staff, talking Read more

Nurture New Relationships - 6/4/24


Freddie was a new business owner in town.  He was launching a franchise, had acquired some funding from a local bank, and was in search of staff who cared about customer service. All the while, he was in the process of renovating a storefront for his business, so he was Read more

There’s Positivity in Patience - 5/28/24


The employee at the financial services firm was working with a new client on a relatively simple loan.  The documentation was about as clear as it could get to the employee, but the customer had lots of questions.  The employee calmly, clearly, and specifically answered each question.  The meeting Read more

The Goal – A Great Experience - 5/21/24


The following is a narrative of a great experience (people, process, service, facility) at a minor league sporting event – key points that could apply to any business are in bold… Mark and I pulled into the parking lot, excited about the game.  The Slapshots had been on a roll Read more

Your Best Ability is… - 5/14/24


I enjoy watching sports, and I’ve even listened to some sports press conferences over the years, just to hear what coaches are saying.  Basically getting the leadership perspective from the sports industry either out of my interest or curiosity, or to figure out how to apply it to the 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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