The Good, the Bad, and the Needed of Municipal Customer Service

The Tulare County (California) government has launched a new customer service program. According to Fifth District Supervisor Mike Ennis in the article County unveils customer service program, “Customer service is the lifeblood of any successful business, including local government. Thousands of residents utilize Tulare County services every day. These residents expect and deserve great customer service.”

We’ve worked on improving customer service for local municipalities for over ten years, and we’ve seen the Good (a county IT department going from “worst to first” in customer service), the Bad (employees who bring bad attitudes into training because “it’s not like the residents have a choice”), to the Needed (municipalities lacking customer service standards and plans) of municipal customer service.

And as with many businesses, when organizations do start to focus on customer service, the first thing they think about is training. While training is important, it should never be the totality of a customer service program. The ultimate goal of any customer service program is to provide consistently high levels of customer service to internal and external customers.

To gain that comprehensive focus, training is important – it creates a baseline definition of core expectations, principles, and service skills for employees. But the consistency comes from having a customer service vision defined, having management model the way, having organizational structures, incentives/accountability systems, processes, measures, communication plans, and ongoing reinforcement all aligned toward that vision.

When you think of creating a “customer service program,” don’t just fallback to training as a panacea. Ensure you’re doing all you need to do to truly create a culture of customer service.

Read our New Book – “Ask Yourself…Am I GREAT at Customer Service?” http://www.amigreatat.com/

Listen to our latest podcast episode of “Stepping Up Service” on The MESH Network at http://themesh.tv/stepping-up-service/

Interested in improving your company’s customer service? See more at our new website! http://www.cssamerica.com/

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