Although governments have made great strides in improving customer service, there’s still a stigma about how complicated the process can be. From both inside and outside of government, people assume that any major change is next to impossible. It’s assumed, for example, that it’s next to impossible to create a customer service culture in government. I’m proud to report that it’s not. And finally, I came across a video that outlines how scalable the process can be.
Above is a video from the wonderful Dennis Snow, the former customer service executive from Disney. Dennis Snow is outstanding leader and a well-known expert in the customer service business. In his video, Dennis outlines the four simple steps to creating a customer service culture. Remarkably, these steps are not just applicable to large corporations. These steps are realistic and scalable whether you’re directing the customer experience at Disney or at the Philadelphia City government. Here are Dennis’ steps:
1. Define your service culture. (For this Dennis says to choose three characteristics)
2. Make sure there is a hiring process in place to identify “customer service” people.
3. Make sure there is a training process to drive this service culture.
4. Hold employees accountable for their behaviors.
The important part about these steps is that they can be implemented in any organization, especially a government. In my experience, defining a service culture was easy because we aligned it with our mayoral goals. Hiring the right people also wasn’t a challenge. Once we had clearly defined the service culture we wanted, it was easy to find the kind of employees who shared the same values. (See my blog post on hiring the right customer service people) Our training process took time to develop. We wanted to make sure that every employee was well educated, had hands-on experience in serving our customers and empowered to serve nearly every need. Once the training was developed, however, we had our more senior-level employees act as “instructors.” This ensured buy-in. Our experienced employees knew our customer service culture inside-and-out and our new employees were trained on our culture immediately. The last step, accountability, is perhaps the most simple. Where organizations get caught up, however, is in the communication piece. Holding employees accountable only works when expectations are clearly outlined and reinforced. Our contact center worked this communication into the training program. (Our customer service values are also hanging on the walls.)
Does creating a customer service culture in your government agency (or any other organization) seem any more obtainable? Let me know in the comments. And don’t forget to thank Dennis!
Rosetta 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 www.rosettacarringtonlue.com.