Talk the Talk: 9 Government Customer Service Terms You Should Know


It may seem like basic information, or at least something that Google could solve, but you would be surprised how often undefined terminology gets the better of people in the work place. We’ve all been in similar circumstances; perhaps your boss asks you to complete a task, but includes a phrase or two that you are unfamiliar with. A lot of the times, people are afraid to ask for the definition of a word, which can result in general misunderstandings and unfinished tasks. I’ve personally faced situations like these.

As a member and founder of several initiatives and programs, I’ve run into this problem. I’ve experienced moments in meetings when a group has had to stop and clarify. Language consistency is a critical element of working efficiently and effectively. Below are a few terms that have become part of my every day as a Chief Customer Service Officer.

Citizen Engagement

According to the United Nations Public Administration Country Studies, “Citizen engagement in public administration implies the involvement of citizens in decision-making process of the State through measures and/or institutional arrangements – so as to increase their influence on public policies and programmes ensuring a more positive impact on their social and economic lives.” Citizen engagement is what we rely on when it comes to operations and it is reflected in the City of Philadelphia’s many initiatives, like the Citizen Engagement Academy, Neighborhood Liaison Program, and the Youth Neighborhood Liaison Program.

City Services

City services, also known as municipal services, are services that city government offers and provides, like trash clean up or graffiti removal.

Customer

Within the call center community, “customer” and “citizen” are often synonymous. Our customers, those who are calling for city information and city services, are citizens.

Customer Experience

Customer experience is frequently lumped in with customer service; (though it is the foundation of it) customer experience is the long-game. Customer experience is the total experience, and every interaction the customer has with the supplier. As a city contact center, customer experience becomes all encompassing. The citizen’s experience often goes hand in hand with their experience with all city services and not just the call center itself.

CRM

CRM stands for Customer Relationship Management: a system that manages customer interactions. The system tracks, manages, records, and stores pertinent data. For a contact center, a high functioning CRM is imperative for maintaining internal and external customer relations.

Emergency

As a non-emergency contact center, knowing when to call 911, opposed to 311, is important. An emergency is classified by something that needs immediate attention, and something that may be dangerous or life-threatening.

External Customer

For the private sector, external customers are those that sign the check, so to say, but for the public sector these are our citizens.

Internal Customer

Internal customers are on the inside. They are your employees, stakeholders, and people who are directly connected with the organization. In many ways internal customers differ from external customers. Both internal and external customers should receive equal attention for the best overall outcome.

Service Requests

Service requests are requests from customers asking for specific services to be completed. A good example of a service request is a request to clean up a vacant lot. A citizen calls in, provides the location of a dirty vacant lot, an agent then puts in a service request with the Community Life Improvement Program, (CLIP) and the lot is cleaned within a timely manner.

Do you have any tips about language consistency? Are there any terms that confuse you? Leave a comment!

Photo credit:  Martin Cathrae

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