municipal | Customer Service Solutions, Inc. - Page 3

Talk About Yourself to Build Customer Confidence - 4/16/24


When you’re dealing with somebody who is anxious or nervous about a situation, a customer who feels like they don’t have much control, an individual who is unsure and uncertain, it’s important to put the customer at ease.  It’s important to build their comfort level.  It’s important to help Read more

The Proven Value in What You Do - 4/9/24


Forbes wrote an article last year based on a compilation of the results of research on customer service and the customer experience; it was titled:  100 Customer Experience Stats For 2023. In reading the article, you’ll note that many of these key research findings are about you – the value Read more

A Tale of Two Texts - 4/2/24


Having to get allergy shots once a week is never fun, and for Janet, it became an even bigger frustration. She had the shots typically scheduled on Tuesday around 10:30 in the morning, figuring she would avoid the morning rush as well as the lunch rush by going mid-morning.  However, Read more

The Secret Sauce for Great Customer Service - 3/26/24


I was working with the League Office for a major American sport several years back, and one of the executives asked me to describe our Secret Sauce that helped our clients improve the fan experience and customer retention.  I gave him a sense of what makes us unique and Read more

The Miracle of an Apology - 3/19/24


Unfortunate but true story… The manager basically lost his mind.  He terminated his employee on the spot.  She had told the customer that there was going to be a delay in the shipment.  The employee called up the customer ahead of time to let the customer know what was about Read more

It’s Not About the 5-Minute Wait - 3/12/24


Robert went into his supervisor’s office to update her on a situation at the payment desk.  Robert said that a customer was about fourth or fifth in line, waiting to be served, and the customer was complaining loudly about the wait.  He was there to make a property tax Read more

Lessons from the Greats - 3/5/24


I was recently facilitating a workshop on the customer experience, and I made the point that it’s usually beneficial to look at your personal life for great experiences; identify what really resonates with you in a positive way in order to uncover ideas to improve your own customer service. So, Read more

The Empathy Roadmap - 2/27/24


For some people, empathy comes naturally.  There’s an innate desire to learn about the other person and to sincerely convey that sense of interest and caring.  But for many of us, sometimes it helps to have a communication plan.  It helps to know what to do in order to Read more

“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

Customer Service – Look Internally to Ensure Satisfying Externally

Posted on in Business Advice, Government Please leave a comment

With the proliferation of relatively inexpensive online customer satisfaction survey solutions (at least for web-based surveys), there has thankfully been more of a tendency for organizations to ask customers about their experiences. This first-hand feedback can be very helpful for businesses in understanding customer perceptions and preferences.

But organizations can’t be so focused on just getting feedback from customers (those external to the organization) that they ignore many of the internal measures of operations that drive the customer’s (dis)satisfaction.

In the article City, county teaming up to speed land-use permits, Fort Wayne and Allen County governments were recognized for working well together on a new online land-use permitting system. According to the article, “The system will allow developers to track their projects online. It will also help city and county employees track their performance and understand where in the process applications are getting stalled. The system will chart a permit’s progress from department to department. If it is held up too long in one department, the system will red-flag it, and a computer-generated letter will be sent to the applicant.”

The system was developed – in part – to improve customer service. And a large part of that improvement will be driven by the organization looking at internal performance reports that are impacting speed of service processes for external customers.

When you review your customer satisfaction/service performance metrics, think beyond those surveys that customers complete. To truly improve customer service, you have to have effective measures of internal operational performance that impacts service delivery to customers.

Look internally to ensure you’re satisfying externally.

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


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


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/.