Customer Satisfaction: Innovating with Lack of Resources

My post originally appeared on the DigitalGov blog.

Philly311 winning the Managing Director's Office "High Performing Department of the Year Award"

As government contact centers, we all face financial and technological constraints in our pursuit to improve the customer experience. One challenge faced by many contact centers is staffing limitations to handle the volume of incoming customer traffic. There are barely enough employees to operate phones, let alone work on meeting or exceeding the organizational customer satisfaction performance goals.

One initiative that was important to the City of Philadelphia’s 311 non-emergency contact center was the successful collection of customer feedback and coaching our employees to improve the customers’ experience with each transaction. The 311 Contact Center serves as the single point of contact for over 1.5 million residents, businesses, and visitors needing City-related non-emergency services and information.

With so many daily interactions between our customers and agents, how could we improve customer experience if we did not have the means to ask our customers about their experience? With a limited technology and staffing budget, it seemed impossible to implement a customer satisfaction program in our government contact center. We needed to find innovative solutions to effectively collect, and manage, accurate and real-time customer experience responses.

A Solution

To create a credible program to measure customer satisfaction, our contact center partnered with a national Fortune 500 company who, pro bono, helped to develop an effective customer satisfaction survey and we partnered with a local non-profit organization for surveying and data entry staffing support. The benefit of these partnerships were two-fold: building a best-in-class program and providing a training environment to enhance clientele’s skills through their experience in a customer contact operations.

For example, in an agreement with the non-profit’s Work Experience programs, we provide opportunities for their clients to gain experience in an office setting. Work Experience employees work in our contact center for up to 20 hours a week for an agreed-upon number of months (based on the program) or until they found employment. Work Experience employees administer customer satisfaction surveys via the telephone.

In Practice

Formal training is conducted for our Work Experience/customer satisfaction surveyors to familiarize them with our services, the data collection processes and why their role is critical to our success. After this, surveyors are given a list of anonymous customers who contacted us within the last 24 hours and authorized the use of their number for a customer satisfaction survey (asked by our contact center agents at the end of each phone call). Over time we have enhanced the sample questions the surveyors ask. The results are entered into a centralized database. Following are the current baseline questions used in our survey:

  • Did the agent explain the process for resolving your issues or concerns?
  • Did the agent have access to the necessary information to meet your request?
  • Was your call (or e-mail, or visit) handled in a timely manner?
  • Were you satisfied with the service you received from Contact Center?
  • Would you like to provide any additional feedback about your experience with the contact center?
  • Would you like to provide your name, phone number or e-mail address, if you would like to be contacted.

As part of the process, surveyors are able to transfer concerned or dissatisfied customers to a contact center supervisor or manager to follow up on or resolve their issue.

Results and Overview

Results of the customer satisfaction surveys are shared with our contact center supervisors for meetings with their teams. The previous day’s average is also displayed on our contact center’s reader boards. Monthly and quarterly customer experience results are shared with Senior Leadership within the organization and posted on the department’s bulletin board.

Overall, our ability to gather customer satisfaction data has been instrumental in our growth as our city’s customer service center. The data has improved our technology and business processes, external communication, and service offerings as we continue to strive for customer service excellence. We continue to use Work Experience programs to collect customer satisfaction surveys and we have also expanded our initiative to include social media data mining. Designated agents monitor social media “streams” to see what our customers are saying about us, in addition to their “wants” as they relate to our services.

While we still face budgetary constraints, our contact center continues to innovate and find means to continually improve our customers’ experience.

0a87dc88be2bd3c4377aed9a2380550eRosetta Carrington Lue is the Chief Customer Service Officer and Senior Advisor to the City of Philadelphia’s Managing Director. Follow Rosetta on Twitter @Rosettalue or visit her blog at

Philly311 Thanks Samyah Green!

This Wednesday is Administrative Professional Day. To celebrate, Philly311 would like to highlight its own Samyah Green.


Just over a year into her position, Samyah has become an essential member of the 311 team, providing administrative support to approximately 50 employees. In addition to her daily tasks (mostly supporting Operations Manager Sheryl Johnson and Administrative Operations Manager Graham Quinn), Samyah is responsible for a wide range of special projects such as facilitating 311’s comprehensive new hire training program. Most recently, Samyah was named the facilitator of the City’s Customer Service Leadership Academy, an in-house training program for all City employees.

While Samyah keeps 311 running, employees most appreciate her kind heart. Samyah has the department’s loudest laugh and biggest smile. Samyah’s professional skills help make Philly311 a great service but her spirit makes it a great place to work. Here’s what a few 311 employees had to say:

“Samyah Green provides administrative support for all facets of our Contact Center. She is instrumental in daily operations for the call center, walk-in center and back office. She is a key component of our new hire training program, ensuring new hires are properly oriented in our environment. She spearheads our Customer Service Leadership Academy, designing and maintaining the website, instituting improvements in the curriculum and enrolling employees in an effort to foster more quality customer service throughout the city. I have no clue how she gets it all done successfully but I can say the overall workday here at 311 is more organized and our efforts more effective with Samyah Green as our Admin. Happy Administrative Professionals Week! You certainly deserve it.” -Kimberly Adams, Philly311 Knowledgebase and Social Content Coordinator

“Administrative assistants do it all, and help everyone in the office. I think Samyah is one of the most versatile employees around!”-Morris Hobson, Philly311 Contact Center Agent/Social Media Support

“Samyah is a wonderful person and makes you come out of your shell, no matter what. Thank you, Samyah.” – Jason Greenwood, Philly311 Business Analyst

“Samyah is an integral part of our team. I appreciate her, even when she gives me a hard time. Her energy is an asset to our department.” -Graham Quinn, Philly311 Administrative Operations Manager

“Samyah is the glue that keeps me together.  She greets each day with a smile and loves her  job.  That’s a great combination.  Administrative staff are essential for running a successful operation and I’d be lost without Samyah!”-Sheryl Johnson, Philly311 Operations Manager

Thank you, Samyah! We appreciate everything you do!

N3rd Street is Official!

Photo courtesy of Technically Philly and Jason Sherman

Photo courtesy of Technically Philly and Jason Sherman

If you’ve spent any time around Philadelphia’s tech community, you’ve probably heard of “N3RD Street.” The nickname has been floating around for the past few years, paying tribute to the growing tech community on North 3rd Street between Old City and Northern Liberties.

On March 6, 2014 a resolution was introduced to City Council  “Also naming 3rd Street between Market and Poplar Streets to “N3RD Street.” The legislation passed, new streets signs installed, and the community celebrated with a ceremony and a BBQ.

(You can read the resolution here)

At the ceremony were representatives from the many companies on N3rd St (Indy Hall and Jarvus to name a few) as well as representatives from city government. Managing Director Rich Negrin, City Council President Darrell Clarke, Deputy Mayor for Economic Development Alan Greenberger, Chief Innovation Officer Adel Ebeid, and Director of Civic Technology Tim Wisniewski attended the ceremony, among others.

“What began as a colloquial nickname, has become a reality, and now a movement. N3rd St represents our best talent, homage to our innovative past in Old City, and a bridge to our growing innovative future. “ Rich Negrin.

CIO Adel Ebeid said, “Philly always tops the list of cities where civic innovation thrives and what’s going on in N3rd St. is a big reason behind that. It’s genuine, authentic, empowering and organic…..that’s what separates Philly from the rest.”

Making N3rd Street official  is more than an acknowledgement from city government; it’s a vow of support. The resolution, the signage, the presence of City officials at the ceremony shows that city government is not only proud of what the tech community has accomplished, but it wants to be a partner in the community’s continued growth and success. Keep an open ear as N3rd Street gains a reputation far beyond the city limits…


Technically Philly has more photos of the ceremony here.


What Can You Do on the Philly311 Website?

We spend so much time writing and pushing out information about the Philly311 Mobile App that some people don’t know what the Philly311 website has to offer. Using the same technology as the mobile app, the Philly311 website can be used as a self-service portal for customers to enter service requests or ask questions. Heres’ how:

 Go to Philly311’s website at



If you have question, first click on the “Find an Answer” tab at the top of the page. Here you’ll find a database of the city government’s frequently asked questions relating to “Animals and Pets”; “Businesses”; “Public Safety”; “Streets and Traffic”; and more. Each topic is packed with detailed answers, phone numbers, and links to resources.

Find an Answer

If your question is not in the “Find and Answer” tab, you can click on the “Ask A Question” tab. This tab will take you to a form where your question will be submitted to a Philly311 agent. In your question, remember to be as detailed as possible.

Ask a question

If you don’t have a question, and would like to enter a service request, click on the “Service Request” button, just below the “Ask A Question” tab.  This button will take you to Philly311’s self-service portal. Here you can view or search for previously entered requests or enter your own request by clicking on the “New Request” button at the top left.

In the “New Request” form,  you can add a personalized description (remember to be as detailed as possible) and a photo. After you submit a your request, you’ll receive a number so that you can track its progress.

New Request

After you’ve submitted a request, you could also head over to the website. It’s packed with resources, multimedia, and links to other departments.

My 3 Key Observations on “The State of Social Media 2014″

I wanted to share and discuss this YouTube video link by 1800 Enterprises because, in my observation, it paints a pretty accurate (and almost astounding) picture of the “state of social media” for 2014. While we should be past the point of thinking social media is a “fad,” it’s still important to have a full understanding of just how big it has become. Once you understand, you can begin to strategize on how to best use it to your advantage.

In my field of creating customer experience and engagement strategies, I saw three statements in the video that were particularly useful in guiding how organizations should leverage social media.

1. 80% of Twitter use is on mobile devices. People update anywhere, anytime. Imagine what that means for bad customer experiences?

This prodding question might be cause for worry for some organizations that have not taken social media seriously. With Twitter being 80% mobile, every organization is under a microscope 24-hours a day. (And unfortunately, people are more likely to tweet about negative experiences than positive ones.)

Social media has empowered customers to talk about your organization to a larger audience than ever before. But your organization is empowered as well. Don’t sit on the “back burner” of social media, simply reading tweets and posts about others’ interaction with your organization. You can post about what your organization is doing too! Post about your employees, tell stories of new efforts and initiatives. Don’t let the world of social media be a conversation where you’re not talking.

2. Successful companies in social media act more like Dale Carnegie and less like David Ogilvy. Listening first and selling second.

This point helps drive home the notion that social media should be used to listen to customers. The good news about customers talking about your organization on social media is that it can be easily monitored. This means you have access to constant and genuine feedback so that you can continuously improve. You can set up streams in content management systems such as Hootsuite or TweetDeck (for free) to track what customers are saying about your organizations, and other organizations too. This is also a lesson in engagement, which brings us to our next point…

3. Successful companies in social media act more like party planners, aggregators, and content providers than traditional advertisers.

This is perhaps the most useful point of the video. Social media should not be used to simply “sell” it should be used to engage customers with meaningful, relevant content. An organization should only be using social media to push out content that is valuable to its customers. Have a personality. Post a pretty picture. Tell a story that’s emotional, or engaging, or cute. Social media allows organizations to have relationships with customers, not just to push out information and try to sell products.

What are your thoughts on “The State of Social Media”?

0a87dc88be2bd3c4377aed9a2380550eRosetta Carrington Lue is the Chief Customer Service Officer and Senior Advisor to the City of Philadelphia’s Managing Director. Follow Rosetta on Twitter @Rosettalue or visit her blog at

Top 5 Widgets You Might Not Know on the Philly311 Mobile App

Did you know that the City of Philadelphia has a new Chief Integrity Officer? What about the property history of your apartment building? Have there ever been any violations at your address? Did you know that you could find this information on the Philly311 Mobile App? While the Philly311 Mobile App is most often used to enter service requests, there are a number of other widgets on the app that most users don’t know about. From a City Official directory to a “Licenses and Inspections Property History” widget, the Philly311 Mobile App can truly be your connection to City Hall (if you know how to use it.) Let’s take a look at our “Top 5 Widgets You Might Not Know” on the Philly311 Mobile App.

1. City Administration Directory

The Philly311 Mobile App has “City Administration” directory that lists top City officials and their contact info. Each directory page also includes a picture and a biography for each member of the Mayor’s Administration.


2. L&I Property History

Last year, the Philly311 Mobile App launched the Licenses and Inspections widget. Pulling L&I data, Philly311 app users can enter an address to look up specific property history. (We wrote a blog post about the L&I widget here.)

photo 2

3. City News

Ever wonder what was new with City government but didn’t know where to check besides a news outlet? You can click on the City News widget on your mobile app to see a compilation of the latest press releases from the Mayor’s Press Office. (You can also see the press releases online.)

4. myPhillyRising is the social network for community building. Based off of apps like Yelp or Around Me, the app lets you know what community events are happening near your neighborhood. Further, you can comment or post pictures and videos on your neighborhood’s page. As events and activities are posted on neighborhood’s pages, neighborhoods and users receive points. (Watch the video here.)

photo 1

5. Requests Nearby

The Philly311 Mobile app uses your phone’s geographic location to show you service requests made nearby. When clicking on each request, you can view the submitted picture (if applicable) and description. You can also view nearby requests on a map of the city. The same app can be used on Philly311’s website on the “request submission” page.


Do you have another favorite widget on the Philly311 Mobile App? Let us know in the comments!

5 Sure-Fire Leadership Traits

Rich Negrin Commissioner Lloyd Ayers

The year is 1974 and a young Coast Guard Officer is back home in his beloved Philadelphia. Having been just honorably discharged after 4 years of service, he is accustomed to doing his duty, feels comfortable in a uniform, and is thinking about how he can continue to serve. This is when young Lloyd Ayers hears a radio commercial calling for Philadelphia Firefighters. Then there is an advertisement on the side of a bus, the pull of public service, some soul searching, and a decision is made. The rest, as they say, is history.

Cadet Lloyd Ayers passed his entrance exam and soon began his training at the Philadelphia Fire Academy. Today, 40 years later, that young cadet is Philadelphia’s Fire Commissioner leading over 2,400 heroic firefighters who help keep our city safe.

1. Leaders Grow

Leadership is a journey. It does not begin when someone accepts a management role; a person does not become a leader when he or she is named an “executive” or given charge over the lives of others. Leadership begins on day one. Usually, at an entry level position (or quite possibly before that point), with experiences, watching—first hand—what works and what doesn’t, and thinking about how to do things differently if ever given the chance. Experiences inform a leader’s values and determine what he or she would like to accomplish in the future. True leadership is continuous growth. By the time a true leader is brought into a top role, the good decisions may seem automatic but they are usually the result of many years of preparation and commitment, doing things the right way, every day, not just when someone is watching.

I see a true leader in departing Commissioner Lloyd Ayers. When Ayers became a firefighter in the 70’s, the department was running from fire to fire. The country suffered through approximately 6,000-7,000 fire-related deaths a year. Philadelphia saw approximately 150-170 deaths caused by fire each year. With such a heavy volume, the fire department’s top objective was to fight fires; there was hardly any time for other initiatives. Ayers worked his way through every rank within the department, learning every day along the way, eventually being appointed Commissioner in December 2004.

2. Leaders Adapt

With Commissioner Ayers at the helm, the fire department looks very different. For example, the department doesn’t just fight fires today, it prevents them. The department has created an expansive community risk reduction effort that educates the community on prevention. Now, firefighters are spending a substantial amount of time installing life-saving fire alarms and offering free home inspections to the neighborhoods they serve. Today’s Philadelphia Fire Department is ingrained in its community; firefighters are neighbors, educators, and heroes.

Today, the department’s community engagement efforts are also driven by technical innovations such as the “Fire Safety App” for mobile devices. Created in partnership with Drexel University students, the app includes information about smoke alarms, home escape planning, hospital locations, and first aid tips. The Fire Department also airs its own TV show, “Freedom from Fire” that teaches residents about fire prevention and safety.

Commissioner Ayers PhillyInnovates

“Commissioner Ayers is a dedicated public servant and has been dedicated to improving public safety in our city. He is a gentle giant in his own right and has approached his job with dignity and respect for all.” Chief of Staff to the Mayor, Everett Gillison

3. Leaders Impact Lives

In 2012, Philadelphia saw 25 fire-related deaths, a substantial reduction from when a young Lloyd Ayers started. In 2013, the city hit its lowest number yet at 24. While Commissioner Ayers certainly isn’t satisfied with 24, (he has stated over and over again that the goal is 0), the lives saved are a credit to his service and all the great firefighters who stand alongside him ready to serve each day. Despite his upcoming retirement, he has begun a recent innovative effort working with Caroline Olson, our new Chief Talent Acquisition Officer, on an initiative that will continue to impact the Fire Department long after he’s gone.

4. Leaders Finish Strong

Commissioner Ayers and Caroline have worked with the Fire Department’s Deputy Commissioner Richard Davison, Captain Sean Mack, and National Urban Fellow Darren Johnson on developing a recruiting strategy that will impact and modernize the department’s hiring. This will allow recruitment to be more aligned with departmental needs and goals. The recruitment effort includes potential partnerships with local universities, among other strategies. Further, the City is leveraging social media to recruit new talent. (Check out @CityofPhilaJOBS on Twitter.)

“Commissioner Ayers has been serving the citizens of this City for 40 years, and has spent his career saving lives and property. He has held every rank in the department and will leave a legacy of professionalism and innovation.” Director of Public Safety, Mike Resnick

5. Leaders Leave a Legacy

Along with leaving a record low fire-death toll, innovative communication strategies, and a booming community engagement effort, Commissioner Ayers is also ensuring that the Fire Department is well prepared with talent for the future. This only seems fitting.

As his leadership journey takes a turn, chances are, another entry-level employee’s journey is just beginning. Today, maybe there’s a young potential firefighter hearing about a job opportunity on Twitter. Even though the department has seen much change, let’s hope that recruit’s personal commitment is the same as Lloyd Ayers’. And based on the precedent that Commissioner Ayers has set, I can’t wait to see what he or she accomplishes.

Commissioner Ayers PhillyInnovates1Congratulations and thank you to Commissioner Ayers for his 40 years of service.

Rich headshot 1Rich Negrin is the City of Philadelphia’s Managing Director and Deputy Mayor for Administration and Coordination. MGMT Moment w/ the Managing Director is a blog series appearing on PhillyInnovates. Follow Rich on Twitter @RichNegrin.

Social Media Content for Customer Service


I recently read an article from McKinsey Quarterly about the role of social media in customer service. The article dove into the operational aspects of implementing a social media strategy. It also compared the use of traditional call centers vs. social media platforms for customer service. One point the article made compared the cost of the two channels: “handling an inbound telephone call typically costs a company $6 to $8; an interaction using social media, less than $1.”

The article also made another point to help illustrate the endless possibilities for customer service: social media platforms make it “easier to guide customers to relevant web pages or video content.” While this functionality has often been used for content marketing, organizations should tap-into this low-cost opportunity as a customer service effort, sending customers towards the answers and information they need. (Hopefully, before they ask.)

This is really a lesson in proactive customer service. If you are aware of your top customer FAQ’s, what’s stopping you from making 10 short videos and pushing them out through social media channels? The same goes for blogs, which are really just flexible platforms  to quickly create (and post) relevant content.

While relevant video and blog content is relatively easy to generate, planning content ahead is how customers get the most value. For instance, weather emergencies or holidays could shape what questions your customers will be asking. If so, you can create a video or blog post before hand. Another way to find ideas for content creation is to pay attention to what your customers are saying on social media. If you see a trend, create content that addresses concerns with relevant information.

Through social media, your organization can not only answer customer questions instantaneously, it can push out an answer before it’s even asked.

0a87dc88be2bd3c4377aed9a2380550eRosetta Carrington Lue is the Chief Customer Service Officer and Senior Advisor to the City of Philadelphia’s Managing Director. Follow Rosetta on Twitter @Rosettalue or visit her blog at

Philly311 TV is in Production!

Last year, The City of Philadelphia launched its first season of The Philly311 Show in an effort to engage, educate, and empower residents through conversations with city government leaders. Hosted by Chief Customer Service Officer Rosetta Carrington Lue, the show featured Director of Human Resources Al D’Attilio; Jennifer Rodriquez, Executive Director of the Mayor’s Office of Immigrant and Multicultural Affairs; and Sheryl Johnson, Philly311′s Operations Manager, among others.  The first season was a successful first step into the contact center’s use of television (and online video) as a vehicle to provide customers with information. (You can view the first season online here.)

This year, the City of Philadelphia will launch Philly311 TV, a second season of the Philly311′s television effort with a fresh look. Philly311 TV still aims to engage residents with information about the municipality, but in a new way. While the show will still feature Lue in the studio with various department heads, substantively, episodes will be shot “in the field” with Lue engaging city employees on the sites for municipal programs and initiatives. Philly311 TV  hopes to give viewers an inside look at city services and resources, in an entertaining way. In the above promo, Philly311 TV drives through Point Breeze with PhillyRising’s Deputy Director Adé Fuqua to discuss community engagement and the collaborative beautification efforts throughout the neighborhood.

What do you think of Philly311 TV? Do you have thoughts on how we can make it better? Let us know in the comments!


Chief Customer Service Officer Gets Social at Temple


Last night, Chief Customer Service Officer Rosetta Carrington Lue presented at Temple’s School of Tourism and Hospitality Management. The class was called “Social Media Innovation” (something close to the heart of the Philadelphia city government.)

Philadelphia’s municipal social media accounts are nothing new, but uses for these of these platforms seem to have come of age in recent years to create a more accessible, transparent, and engaging city government.

Mayor Nutter, for example (@Michael_Nutter) is active on on Twitter, engaging with the public and even taking service requests from residents who tweet him. The city government has an active Twitter (@PhiladelphiaGov), Facebook, Youtube, Flickr, and WordPress page where it posts pictures, videos, and blog posts about what’s going on in the city. Managing Director Rich Negrin (@Richnegrin) also has a lively Twitter and Facebook feed with multimedia content and interaction with the community.

Lue (@RosettaLue) used the presentation at Temple to highlight all of the ways the city government is using social media, including Philly311 (@Philly311). As the City’s Non-emergency contact center, 311 utilizes Twitter and Facebook to not only push out information but to accept service requests from customers. It creates content for its Youtube and WordPress accounts to teach customers about city services and how to connect with the the City government. Lue also talked about exploring newer social media platforms such as Instagram and Vine, to connect with a different demographic of customers and provide relevant and engaging content about municipal government.

By leveraging social media, Philadelphia government has not only made itself more accessible, it has created communities where residents can learn about city resources, interact, collaborate, and ultimately better our city.


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