Category Archives: Connected Customers

Why You Should Celebrate 2016 National Customer Service Week Oct 3rd – 9th!

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In the words of Philadelphia’s Benjamin Franklin, “Well done is better than well said.” The idea of customer service is often reserved to describe interaction with stores, restaurants, and other organizations in the private sector. Rarely do we hear people say “Wow, I had a great experience dealing with the staff at any government agency!” Fortunately, those outside of government might be surprised at how seriously excellence in service delivery is taken in the public sector.

Let’s take a look at national Customer Service Week which was created by 1992 by the President of the United States, citing the value of service excellence in a free market economy.

The President’s proclamation said:

A business will do a better job of providing high-quality goods and services by listening to its employees and by empowering them with opportunities to make a difference. Customer service professionals work in the front lines where a firm meets its customers; where supply meets demand. With responsive policies and procedures and with simple courtesy, customer service professionals can go a long way toward ensuring customer satisfaction and eliciting the next round of orders and purchases. The Congress, by Senate Joint Resolution 166, has designated the week of October 4 through October 10, 1992, as “National Customer Service Week” and requested the President to issue a proclamation in observance of this week.

NOW, THEREFORE, I, GEORGE BUSH, President of the United States of America, do hereby proclaim the week of October 4 through October 10, 1992, and the first week of October in subsequent years, as National Customer Service Week. I invite all Americans to observe this week with appropriate programs and activities.

IN WITNESS WHEREOF, I have hereunto set my hand this eighth day of October, in the year of our Lord nineteen hundred and ninety-two, and of the Independence of the United States of America the two hundred and seventeenth.

George H. Bush

Across the country, including the federal government agencies, there is a movement to improve the delivery of information and service to those in need.

During the first week of October 2016, they are making Benjamin Franklin proud by not just talking about customer service but actually doing something (many things actually) to make sure our customers are properly “served.”

Customer Service Versus Customer Experience: What’s The Difference…And Why It Matters

Reblog article: September 24, 2015 by Bruce Jones, Programming Director, Disney Institute

In case you’ve missed it, the term “customer experience” is everywhere in business these days. In fact, some experts have declared that focusing on the customer experience has become the single most important factor for an organization to achieve business success—creating a significant point of differentiation and competitive advantage.

But, what exactly is customer experience? How does it differ from customer service? And, how focused or concerned should your business or organization be about it? These are all great questions we hear from participants in our professional development training courses, so we thought this was a great opportunity to dive a little deeper.

First, let’s start by defining customer experience. According to Harvard Business Review, it can be defined as “the sum of all interactions a customer has with a company.” This can include everything from a customers initial awareness or discovery of a company, product or service, through the purchase and use of that’s company’s products or services. Together, these all add up to the critical moments—what we call touchpoints—that create an organization’s overall customer experience.

Then, to better understand what customer experience is (and isn’t)…consider this story about a car dealership we worked with several years ago. Although sales were solid, management was concerned that their customers and employees were not happy. So, we worked with their team to help them intentionally create, design, and implement an experience that would exceed customer expectations at every key touchpoint. By helping them think differently about aligning the entire organization – the employees, the processes, and the physical plant itself – around the customer experience, the results were dramatic, increasing sales by 26 percent over the past few years.

The key learning, we have found, is that “customer service” is too often thought of as a specific department, rather than as a core value and strategic imperative, owned by the entire organization. Consider that the traditionally defined “service department” could soon be obsolete, because there are so many interactions consumers have with your business before, during, and after any one specific touchpoint.

“Customer experience”, on the other hand, encompasses every aspect of a company’s offerings—from the quality of its customer care to its reputation management, marketing, packaging, product and service features, ease of use, reliability and beyond. As we like to say at Disney, while no one “owns the Guest,” someone, in every case, “owns the moment.”

Today, this distinction is more important than ever, especially if organizations want to continue to differentiate themselves from their competition. Customer experience must be understood and approached holistically, with those responsible for each area of a company’s offerings giving intentional thought and focus on how their decisions will shape and impact the overall customer experience.

So, there you have it. Customer experience goes beyond customer service alone, and is far more than any single leader, employee, or department. It’s about truly understanding your customer as segments and as individuals, architecting a plan for delivering exceptional experiences, and then empowering employees to deliver it across all touchpoints. And, it’s about developing leaders to reinforce the beliefs and behaviors that support exceptional customer experience.

Bottom line, if your organization wants to advance its customer experience, you must make it a strategic business priority.

Welcoming & Innovative Cities Are Creating Digital Strategies to Improve Customer Interactions

The internet changed things to the point where the world cannot even imagine going back in time and possibly living without the convenience afforded by it. Everything and every aspect of our lives was influenced by the internet, shaped and molded by it. And then technology took a step further and beyond.

Usually termed as the internet 2.0, mobile devices have removed the restriction of the internet from being a remote portal on our desktops, to an everyday need within the palm of our hands, and on the tip of our fingers, literally. From online browsing and emails to online transactions and messaging, our social interaction with loved ones and complete strangers has never been more important.

So important, that the governments of various developed states are acknowledging the need for development of a more friendly and interactive experience with their present and potential citizens and business customers. For example, the government of New Zealand is no different and has made a statement of intent to improve the interaction of their government with their citizens and business customers by delivering better public services that are mostly used in a digital environment and providing the completion of transactions online easily and conveniently.

There are many other benefits to be realized other than satisfied citizens and business customers. The recently appointed CEO of the Australian federal government’s Digital Transformation Office (DTO), Paul Shetler, revealed at a “Technology in Government” conference in Canberra, that digital interactions between citizens and government agencies could save costs of up to $20 billion. The figures were cited in a research conducted by Deloitte and could help improve other governments who are cost restrained and would like to improve further digital interaction with their citizens.

Accenture, a global brand, conducted a citizen survey back in 2013, that showed a high correlation between the overall satisfaction experienced with public services and use of digital channels. The design needs to be focused on mobile technology as more than half of the world’s population is connected through their mobile devices.

Many companies have shifted their focus on such initiatives, but by and large the majority has yet to do so. Developing countries that have bigger populations that are connected through their mobile devices, have governments that have yet to realize the potential in developing digital channels for presenting their services.

Rosetta Carrington Lue is the City of Philadelphia first Chief Customer Officer. She is a dynamic leader in the fields of Customer Experience Management, Strategy and Technology, Social Media and Community Engagement in both public and private sectors.

Creating a Smart and Connected City

Once only a fascinating speculation of science fiction, smart cities are not only becoming a reality but are now vitally imminent as well. As our population grows with more and more people moving into the cities, a tremendous load is placed upon the city centers, calling for a dire need to expand our resources and services. The local government especially faces this challenge in terms of dispensing its services effectively and ensuring smart governance decisions. However modern day technology with its information exchange has been especially helpful for municipal bodies, providing the answer in the form of smart communities.

A smart and connected community shares an efficient virtual platform with the local government, giving instant access to services in real time. Primarily, a connected community helps you in using your city’s infrastructure more efficiently by having access to real time information related to traffic, road routes etc, engages you in communication with the local government to provide quick access to services as well as increases the efficiency of local governance by improvement through customer feedback. This way, the government is better able to respond to the challenges of a bigger community through the emergence of a constant feedback which helps grow the city’s intelligence.

Information may be dispensed to the users through efficient apps which connect the residents with the local government. Residents can lodge requests and complaints with the local government and have access to information related to security, climate, education, waste management, healthcare etc. For many people, such a platform would in fact be an eye-opener in terms of the vast array of services provided by the government which they were not even aware of!

And it is not only the residents who benefit from a smart community, but the government employees as well; experts are connected in this centralized environment which helps maximize their knowledge base and reach. Moreover, the centralization and accessibility of resources equips both the government and residents to deal better with emergencies as well. A smart community is an effective solution for making our cities more livable, it is a key to the citizens’ satisfaction.

Rosetta Carrington Lue is the City of Philadelphia first Chief Customer Officer. She is a dynamic leader in the fields of Customer Experience Management, Strategy and Technology, Social Media and Community Engagement in both public and private sectors.

Creating a Welcoming & Connected City: 311 Youth Engagement Program

A few weeks ago I posed a challenge to my Philly311 Customer Service Programs and Engagement Strategist, Amanda V. Wagner: Create a program that encourages young people to be civically involved. Amanda leads the Philly311 Customer Service Programs and Strategies Unit which is responsible for Philly311’s customer service innovative programs and communications.

She was excited by the idea; however creating the program would be a challenge within itself. Daniel Ramos, Philly311’s Community Engagement Coordinator managed a similar program in the past with the 311 Youth Neighborhood Liaison Program. The experience that Daniel acquired during the 311 Youth Neighborhood Liaison Program would shape what recently became the Youth Engagement Program.

At the core of Philly311’s philosophy is one simple idea. Philly311 connects citizens to city services and resources, and there is a plethora of city services available to people outside of what citizens see on a daily basis. We want to educate adults about those city related services, and especially kids who could benefit most from it. I strongly believe that by being able to engage young talent early we can leave have a positive impression on our profession, help include and engage them to be part of the process to solve problems in their neighborhood and we may influence them to consider a career in government as a profession.

I am proud of one of the organizations we have partnered with on the youth program, After School Activities Partnerships (ASAP). ASAP works to serve the 45,000 kids citywide that spend an average of “20-25 hours a week alone after school between 3pm and 6pm, the most dangerous time of day for youth according to the Police Department.” Organizations like ASAP are a huge resource to citizens and meet a significant need in the community.

The Philly311 Youth Engagement Program (Y.E.P) kicks off in July for five week sessions. Y.E.P’s programming will teach a group of early middle school kids how to interact with Philly311, including a discussion on our award winning mobile app, and how to engage with community resources. Y.E.P has partnered with several City of Philadelphia affiliated youth programs to provide a well-rounded roster of opportunities. Under the supervision of Amanda V. Wagner, and Director of Communications for Philly311, Gabriela Raczka, the program has created long lasting alliances with our community partners.

I am grateful for a great Philly311 team that shares my passion for government customer service, and I’m looking forward to the feedback we’ll receive and the impact the program will create for the children of Philadelphia.

Rosetta Carrington Lue is the City of Philadelphia first Chief Customer Service Officer. She is a dynamic leader in the fields of Customer Experience, Contact Center Operations, Social Media, and Community Engagement management in both public and private sectors.

City of Philadelphia 311 Named 2015 UN Public Service Award Finalist

I am honored and excited that the City of Philadelphia Philly311 Contact Center was named a finalist for the prestigious international 2015 United Nations Public Service Award in the category of “Improving the Delivery of Public Services.”

We have grown so much from our days as a startup organization serving 1.5 million residents, businesses, and visitors. The journey has had its challenges, but every step of the way we have learned something valuable about our operations. Today we have revolutionized the traditional 311 operations through a customer centric model. We are changing the culture of city government to be more collaborative, connected, and welcoming.

Philly311 knows that to deliver impeccable services we must meet our customers where they are. Knowing this, we have modernized our system through a new customer relationship management solution, and have taken large strides in connecting with our customers through social media and visual messaging.

In addition to a wide variety of community engagement initiatives we are very proud of our efforts seen through the 311 Neighborhood Liaison program, which has expanded and doubled within the last few years. Philly311 is also the first in the nation to have a mobile app with dynamic language capabilities accessible in 17 different languages.

Hats off to the leadership that provided guidance through our journey, and the United Nations Committee of Experts in Public Administration. And of course, we can’t go without thanking our customers, partners, vendors, staff, and city administration for their ongoing support. We see your support everyday when you connect with us through social media, on our world-class mobile app, and through our many other platforms.

Thanks for helping us raise the bar in customer experience excellence in government.

Rosetta Carrington Lue is the City of Philadelphia first Chief Customer Service Officer. She is a dynamic leader in the fields of Customer Experience, Contact Center Operations, Social Media, and Community Engagement management in both public and private sectors.