Category Archives: Government Customer Service

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.”

Using Lean Management & Human-centered Design to Improve Government Customer Experience

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Lean Management is a customer-centric methodology used to improve the current business process by using the DMAIC (Define, Measure, Analyze, Improve, and Control) technique. Following the DMAIC blueprint will provide organizations insight into what the actual root cause problem is by measuring and analyzing various data sets, and developing process flow maps to understand the “as is” state.

• Define: Understanding the problem through the outputs of the human-centered design research

• Measure: Measure data pulled from the contact centers

• Analyze: Analyze and determine the cause(s) of the defects (understanding the waste).

• Improve: Improve the process by eliminating defects (unnecessary steps, decreased wait times, and shorter scripts)

• Control: Control future process performance (governance through new policies and procedures)

The lean approach focuses on increasing taxpayer value by improving the processes associated with delivering high customer value. Using the problems defined through the human center design research will point government in the right direction to which processes it needs to begin to hone it on. The problems government thinks are pertinent, may not be relevant in the eyes of the taxpayer. The contact center, being one of the first touch points for a taxpayer, can be reengineered to run more effectively and efficiently by making the internal workflow of calls leaner. The “as is” process map is the starting point to improving services because it visualizes the current process allowing for a clear picture of evident breakdowns in the process.

Defining the problem with the contact center and understanding the process is one piece to the puzzle, the ability to measure, analyze and improve based on the data collected is a critical component to developing sustainable, scalable solutions. Analyzing the various data sets will allow designers to identify areas of waste in the process, ultimately improving the experience of the taxpayer while simultaneously decreasing internal costs for government. Often than not, the government will tack on more employees and additional resources to a problem that can be easily solved by redesigning the process to work more efficiently. The desired outcome is to develop a solution that will be sustainable for government and taxpayers in the future and not a stop-gap solution for today.

Improving how calls are routed, improving the verbiage in the scripts, shortening wait times, and upgrading data collection platforms are all interlocked in improving the taxpayer’s experience when interacting with the contact centers. The one common denominator for all this to be successful is data. Data will allow leadership to understand the pain points in the process and begin to take a proactive approach in improving the taxpayer’s experience. Lean methodologies break down each component of the process to ensure the internal value stream is being utilized effectively to increase customer satisfaction. Human center design thinking is instrumental in providing lean management with accurate taxpayer problems to lay the framework for business process improvements across all facets of the contact center.

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.

Implement A Government Pilot Program to Assess Customer Experience

For victorious execution of a new technology, implementation must be extensive throughout your organization. This is where government technology pilot program comes into action. Government Pilot programs present the facility to crush new technology in small numbers, allowing you to botch out processes before comprehensive execution.

Pilot Programs will function as follows:

They will establish program goals, as well as processes for collecting feedback. The feedback assessment will help you make out potential doubts or qualms, in turn providing you the opportunity to alleviate them. Participants of a feedback should be made to feel that opinions positive and negative, both are equally welcomed.

Government pilot button will assess the feedback before the program begins and after it has concluded. These assessments, on comparison against each other, will show how each participant felt about:

Productivity
Processes and procedures
Internal and external communication
Business organization
Effortlessness of the job
General Work Impact

Feedback forms will be adapted with the organization’s objectives for the technology in mind.

Face to face discussions and focus groups are important when you are in search of blunt, honest dialogue. Government pilot assessment will rule this strategy, it differs from self-assessment forms as in that discussions provide the opportunity to dive deeper into respondents’ answers and discuss changes on a personal level.

Individual and small-group meetings communicate to participants that feedback is valued, important and worth your time. This in itself can hearten participants to supply straightforward responses, giving you an unfiltered viewpoint on the technology.

Gathering precise feedback from a technology pilot program enables the government to achieve more extensive shore up for execution. It can also aid to identify areas of concern that need addressed prior to large-scale rollout.

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.

The Modern Day Crossroads of the World: Dubai

Creating a Smart City must include improving the customer experience! Dubai’s customer service for the 21st Century, with mobile technology fueling seamless interactions. With this, citizens will get direct access to all government services and pay public utility bills like water, electricity and telephone through a single portal.

It’s a rare stance for a government to take. Unlike many governments, Dubai’s is breaking traditional silos and centralizing activities for ease of use.
It’s a rare stance for a government to take. Unlike many governments, Dubai’s is breaking traditional silos and centralizing activities for ease of use.

Source: The Modern Day Crossroads of the World: Dubai

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.