Creating a Connected City in Today’s Ever-Evolving World

Argyle Executive Forum Journal article. Published: APRIL 1, 2015

Rosetta Lue, Chief Customer Service Officer & 311 Contact Center Operations Director, City of Philadelphia sat down with Argyle to discuss the in’s and out’s of running customer service for a city.

In today’s society, how do you create a connected city?

There are multiple levels to creating a truly connected city. We are working through public private partnerships to leverage technology and all available resources to make our services innovative, accessible, more efficient, and adaptable based on customer needs.

Another element of a connected city is that city departments can talk to each other easily and effectively to provide high quality service to our citizens. In our newly upgraded Customer Relationship Management solution, City agencies are better able to work together, with real-time information updates, creating more accountability and increasing the completion rate of service requests and customer satisfaction.

How have you expanded customer service into the community?

The design of our digital service platform is entirely based on our customers. In order to improve customer service in the City of Philadelphia we identify and engage with our target audience, establish a strategic plan, listen to the community’s feedback, and adjust our process accordingly.

In the same spirit, we have community engagement programs that operate in the community, like the Neighborhood Liaison Program. The Neighborhood Liaison Program, a community empowerment program within Philly311, we are able to encourage citizens to utilize 311’s services while educating them on how to get the most out of our system they in turn share that information with their neighbors, family and friends. With this program, we can connect influencers with each other through trainings and workshops. The Neighborhood Liaison program empowers citizens with tools to interact with their government and get problems resolved.

“We are working through public private partnerships to leverage technology and all available resources to make our services innovative, accessible, more efficient, and adaptable based on customer needs.”
When it comes to customer service initiatives, why it is important to have them?

In city government, we understand that the citizen is our customer, and using those terms as synonyms, have reoriented our overall framework. The citizens’ customer experience expands beyond providing city services, it is about how they feel from the time they submit a request to the time that request has been completed.

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. Every improvement we make for our customer affects their quality of life.

What are important things to consider when building partnerships?

Especially with the implementation of the new customer management system, our partners have played a significant role in helping us move towards our goals this year. Government has limited resources, which is why partnerships are so important. When working with external organizations it is important to keep in mind that organizations mission and goals and make sure it aligns with our own. We try to identify and respond to the needs of the groups we work with and value its input in planning and decision-making.

For both partners and customers, we focus on transparency, efficiency and effectiveness – a top priority of Mayor Nutter and his administration. It is an important aspect of why we want to provide the highest quality customer experience possible.

“Customer experience is frequently lumped in with customer service; (though it is the foundation of it) customer experience is the long game. “
How has the government effectively used social media in emergencies?

Every day we at Philly 311 have a duty to provide citizens with factual information and critical answers about City services, but when the City is facing a crisis, the importance of that information is magnified. Citizens look to the City for guidance, and we provide it. One of the most efficient ways to do this is through our social media channels.

One example is snow emergencies. During major snow events the contact center often remains open 24-7 to handle in high call volume. 311 uses social media to answer frequently asked questions, providing citizens with relevant information before they ask for it. We know the information citizens need during these types of emergencies, for example, we have seen from experience that they want to know about parking, street cleaning, and trash collection. This information is easy to share on our social media, and through our social media working groups we are able to multiply the potential audience reached with this information by coordinating strategic and intentional messages so citizens know how to react in these situations without submitting information requests.

Hurricane Sandy is another example of an emergency situation that we were able to respond to effectively. In Philadelphia during Hurricane Sandy, public transportation was shut down, Philadelphia International airport suspended flights, and all major highways were closed. At Philly311, we had a plan ahead of time. Working with city departments, such as the Office of Emergency Management, we were able to collect data and stay up-to-date on the progress of the storm. We established a strategy ahead of time and were prepared to deliver accurate information through multiple channels, including our social media accounts.

Do you have any last thoughts that you would like to share?

One of our goals is to reach and engage our citizens on channels they are comfortable using. The Philly311 app makes our services more accessible to diverse audiences. Research by the PEW Foundation and others, suggests that many low income citizens do not have internet access in their home but do have internet on their smart phones. We want everyone to be able to use 311, which is why we have so many channels, including the call-in and walk-in centers for more tradition communications. We also provide language services in 17 different languages on the app, which increases accessibility. We want to make sure that all citizens have positive and productive interactions with local government.

What is your organization doing to create connected customers in today’s ever evolving world? I would love to hear your feedback on this topic.

Day in the Life of 311 Director Rosetta Carrington Lue

Dr. Stephen Covey, in his prequel to the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” “The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness,” outlines the four steps to finding your voice:

1.What are you good at?

2.What do you love doing?

3.What need can you serve?

4. And finally, what is life asking of you?

For me, the answers to these questions overlapped, and lead to my current position as the Chief Customer Service Officer of the City of Philadelphia. Check out my “Day in the Life” episode, created by Philly311 TV, and learn about how I found my voice.

“Day In the Life” series is a way to show our constituents the human side of government. By highlighting the day to day of government workers, “Day in the Life” series transparently, and artfully, demonstrates individuals connection to the communities they serve.

8 Tips to Get Your Team Using CRM in 2015 by Michael Hanna

A CRM implementation is more of a cultural change than a technological change. That’s because adopting a new system requires changing habits, and changing habits is hard. It’s hard for those who want to change, let alone those who do not.

Most people demand change, but resist it when it comes. Resistance to change is natural, so it’s crucial to help CRM users through the process of embracing change. When it comes to CRM adoption, users need your help, they need your reinforcement, and they
need that culture of accountability.

Here are four practical, actionable steps before, during and after the CRM launch.

1. Be Aware of Data Integrity

System-to-system consistency, or the integration of multiple systems, is crucial for a strong cadence and user adoption. If you’re migrating from one CRM to another, or merging CRMs, or changing CRM providers, ensuring the data is successfully merged and consistent is crucial to having data integrity. Without data integrity, this process often results in duplicate data, unstandardized or inconsistent data, and missing data. Preparing for these data mishaps in advance, as well as having tools in place to clean and prevent them from happening, will ensure CRM system integrity.

2. Be Clear About the Goal of CRM

Your CRM users are looking for the why behind the CRM system. If you’re not sharing this insight, you’re wasting your CRM investment because users simply won’t adopt it. Deliver clear rationale and a cause for your CRM. As a sales example, CRM gives users visibility that enables continuous sales improvement.

3. Hold CRM Users Accountable

It’s important to empower your CRM users, and CRM adoption should focus on that. However, empowerment without ownership is going to lead to neglect. You can give your users the most pristine, high-end CRM, but if they don’t care, they’re not going to use it. Establish the CRM users as the owners of the CRM, and then, in the context of ownership, empower them to use it. Otherwise, they’ll be negligent and passive.

4. Manage Detractors

If you’ve got ten sales reps using your new CRM, and eight of them are adopting it beautifully while two of them are struggling, you must work hard to get the two back on track. Stay strong and don’t lower your standard, or else the other eight are going to start to slack as well. By not diminishing your expectations, holding users accountable, and providing help and assistance, all 10 sales reps will be completely on board.

5. Demonstrate Real Results

Look for opportunities to showcase the relationship between CRM adoption and the positive sales performance that results from it. Explicitly call these results out when they happen. Here are three examples of these opportunities.

Sales reps quickly follow up on leads delivered in real-time via the CRM resulting in higher lead conversion. Call it out!

6. Provide Ongoing Support

Be extremely responsive to the sales reps’ questions and challenges, and try to support them in real-time. Refer them to your documentation and add their questions to your feedback list if you haven’t addressed it in your documentation.

7. Be Mobile

Reps do not want to have to go back to their desk and spend an hour everyday updating a CRM. This creates detractors. Allow users to update the CRM system in real-time, including while they’re in transit, when they’re coming out of a meeting, and so on. Mobile CRM enables users to access their CRM without pulling out a laptop and connecting to WiFi. Mobile deployment is a critical part of CRM user adoption.

8. Keep the User in Mind

Don’t introduce so much change that users can’t swallow it, and they can’t adopt it even if they wanted to. Pushing too hard or too much will deepen the mindset of existing detractors and create new ones. Your CRM success will only be as strong as the rate at which it can be adopted, not the rate at which it can be implemented.

The CRM adoption process is a journey, not a destination. When asked if the CRM adoption process is ever done, the answer is simply, “No, it’s not.”


Read more at http://www.business2community.com/customer-experience/8-tips-get-team-using-crm-2015-01135865#roodxkOyQwshISmO.99

6 Trends Shaping Government/Citizen Relationships by Timothy McCormick

I found Salesforce Timothy McCormick’s blog post on the citizen engagement initiatives within the City of Philadelphia, including the launch of the new 311 non emergency Customer Relationship Management (CRM) software, was on point as it pertains to the growth of excellence citizen engagement and experience in the public sector.

Below is an excerpt from the blog and link to the entire blog post for your review.

Citizen engagement is less than desirable–with long lines, lots of paperwork, and the confusion of a bureaucracy make it hard for citizens to access the right information. How often are citizens reporting issues vs. commenting (or complaining) on a soap box over social? How many elected positions ran with uncontested candidates in your last election?

Timely responses. How many times have you thought, “What more can we do to make this move faster? Why does progress on XYZ project seem to move so slow compared to everything else in life? How can we possibly do more with stricter budget and fewer resources all around?” Not only does this make it hard to motivate teams, but also it causes citizens to lose faith as they see responses lag and vague delivery commitments, impacting the government’s respectability from the perspective of their customers.

Transparency is difficult to deliver. Without transparency into the decision making process, progress against a request, or delivery impactors, citizens are left to make assumptions, that when paired with a lack of trust, tend to have a negative impact on relations with their governing bodies. Do you feel like this has impacted citizen relationships with your organization(s), such as relations with local politicians, or the police department?

So why all of the sudden are these pain points more prevalent? Why is citizen engagement stagnant, or in some cases dropping? Why does the gap between timely delivery and citizen expectation seem to be growing, no matter what? Why is providing transparency so much more difficult today?

The answer is easy: impact of technology trends and transformation. Here are some trends to consider:

Mobile

Mobile gives citizens the power to connect to their government anywhere, anytime–and they have come to expect that level of engagement now that mobile is commonplace. This is good for government, as always-on citizens give organizations the ability to collect more data in context, enabling leaders to prioritize with more accuracy and be more aligned with what citizens care about all around.

Social

Anywhere, anytime citizens tend to be anytime, anywhere customers. This means they have come to expect social interfaces as the user interface as much as they expect mobile accessibility, giving them an always-on receptacle for comments, inquiries, and request status. Social Platforms help governments meet these demands in a scalable, cost conscious way by supplying a transparent and collaborative platform for engagement that is friendly to Q&A at the pace of conversation.

Apps

With technology expanding an organization’s potential reach, apps are becoming more and more popular as an internal asset. They are easily adapted to the next big mobile or tech trend (think apps for the Apple watch), helping organizations modernize/rationalize dated infrastructure at the pace of their citizens.

Connected Products

More and more devices are coming online, revealing data that could never before be captured. While many organizations we talk to see this as a daunting, overwhelming force to be reckoned with, it’s not! By connecting ordinary objects, such as busses, trains, or stoplights to the internet, (made easier to service with apps on a common platform!) citizens will start to expose behavioral patterns that…

Data

Unlock all kinds of data never before detectable. With increased data availability, variety, and context around everyday activities and citizen behavior patterns, officials can better inform government strategy and resource planning. If you are interested in learning more about how to apply and benefit from a data strategy, join us for Philly Innovates. Mayor Michael Nutter and his team are hosting the first-ever Innovation Summit live in the city, and will share how they addressed these tech trends to realize bottom-line benefits.

1:1 Journeys

Customer experience–and therefore citizen experience–is the new differentiator, as new technologies enable customized, personal, more meaningful experiences with a given organization. Just look at how taxi services have morphed so quickly with companies like Lyft and Uber breaking down barriers between private and public sectors, changing the competitive landscape like government has never before seen. There is no reason why agencies can’t take this same approach to citizen services.

Click here to read the entire blog post: http://blogs.salesforce.com/company/2015/01/6-trends-shaping-governmentcitizen-relationships-.html

City of Philadelphia & a Local Tech Startup Commonality? Great Customer Service!

In the past, the City of Philadelphia’s Philly311 TV has focused on the inside of City government; interviewing City employees and officials from behind the scenes. However, in an effort to depart from the traditional idea of customer service excellence in government, I am looking outside of City government for efficient strategies. With this in mind, I have divided the third season into two parts, and have included a customer service series where I can highlight citizens of Philadelphia who excel at customer service excellence.

In this first episode the City of Philadelphia’s Philly311 TV, the team met Jason Rappaport (CEO) and Raheem Ghouse (CFO) of Squareknot. For Squareknot–a local Philadelphia start-up that creates step-by-step guides–the customer experience determines whether or not their product is utilized. Check out the episode to learn more about Squareknot and how private and public sectors are collaborating and sharing practices to better engage customers.

Are you interested in being in one of our Customer Service Excellence episodes? Please contact me or Amanda Wagner, Philly311 TV Executive Director at amanda.v.wagner@phila.gov.

Toss Out the Government CRMPlaybook!

As the City of Philadelphia Chief Customer Service Officer, I was responsible to led a project team to procure and implement a new city wide CRM (Customer Relationship Management) platform for nearly three years now. The platform will improve the City’s ability to communicate with citizens and internal departments, increase employee productivity, as well as, create a social platform around 311. The CRM will facilitate collaborations between neighbors and stakeholders encourage them to share practices, and organize events to better their communities.

Like any project, we have experienced ups and downs. I would be lying if I said that the journey hasn’t had unanticipated hiccups. Inevitably with a project of this magnitude, there are bumps in the road. Some of these challenges are foreseeable, and accounted for in the very beginning, and others reveal themselves in the process.

In February 2014 the City of Philadelphia kicked off the CRM implementation and a new era of citizen engagement. Before we were able to introduce the project throughout the City, we spent months planning, collecting data, and journey-mapping to ensure that the customers’ needs would be met and their expectations exceeded. Yet in that mission there were some obvious challenges. Anytime you, or a company, are implementing new technology, managing change for a new environment should not be underestimated. Also new and refresher training for your various stakeholders have to be a high priority. However, who needs to be trained, and when they need to be trained, often fluxes in relation to a number of factors. When schedules, resources, and strategies change in the process, you have to remember to be proactive and not reactive.

Embrace and face change. This isn’t to say that you should spend all your time planning for the unexpected, but to rely on your greater objective as a source to keep from getting discouraged. Part of being a project executive means establishing a strategy to confront the unexpected opposed to simply reacting to them as they come along. Don’t spend too much time planning for what cannot be planned.

Good news! The City successfully launched full implementation of the new CRM on December 8, 2014 to serve 1.5 million residents, businesses, and visitors in addition to 28,000 employees. The procurement and implementation journey has been long, but certainly worthwhile. With every mention of the new CRM I can’t help but to thank the people who have supported this process. A big thank you to Mayor Nutter, Executive Sponsor and City Managing Director Richard Negrin, Chief Innovation Officer Adel Ebeid, Philly311 staff, Unisys, Salesforce, ICMA and all internal and external partners.

Regardless of the inevitable challenges we’ve faced, the ultimate outcome: a transparent government that prioritizes its citizens, is what makes bumps in the road, simply that.

Stay tuned for news of our PhillyInnovates summit on February 18, 2015 in partnership with Salesforce and the local tech community. This will be a huge opportunity for the community and other key stakeholders to learn about the whos, whats, whys, and hows behind how the City of Philadelphia is connecting with its customers.

10 Things Revolutionizing Customer Experience in City Government

As the year 2014 closed, I can’t help but to reflect on all that the City of Philadelphia has accomplished in the past year. With the implementation of a new Salesforce customer relationship management system (CRM), new partnerships, and program expansion, it has been a long year. It has also been a year that has brought us at the City’s 311 Contact Center closer to fully realizing our big goals. We are on the cusp of a movement. We are aggressively steering away from what traditional government has been, revamping our customer service strategy, and leading the nation with an innovative approach. By incorporating private sector methods, and platforms, to better our customer experience, we have been working to revolutionize the way government operates.

Here are a few things that are changing city government, and in a very big way.

1. The Customer. Understanding that the citizen is our customer, and using those terms as synonyms, has reoriented our general framework. Our customers are unique because they are citizens! The citizens’ customer experience expands beyond providing city services. Every improvement we make for our customer affects their quality of life.

2. Executive sponsorship from the City’s Mayor and Administration. Having people who share your desire to create a city environment of customer excellence, has been imperative to the process.

3. Citywide Senior Leadership follows suit in understanding and supporting our movement towards a progressive and transparent city government. Support from senior leadership influences and facilitates change in every step of the journey. These folks are more than okaying improvements, they are standing by them, and pushing them to the next level.

4. The City’s Customer Experience strategic goal: “Government Efficiency and Effectiveness.” A focus on efficiency and effectiveness is imperative for city government, and the Mayor’s goal is a constant reminder of what type of experience we should be crafting for our customers. Keeping this in mind, sets a mindset of progress.

5. The Innovation Lab meeting space. The Innovation Lab encourages creativity and gives us a designated space for our citizens to generate new ideas. The Lab is another extension of how the city is bringing the customer further into the conversation, and also helping them lead the conversation.

6. The Neighborhood Liaison Community Engagement Program. A community engagement program is just one example of programming that we have implemented to give our customers self sustainable tools. In the last year the program has doubled in size from 600 to 1,200 contributors. This increase demonstrates an increase in trust towards city government. Citizens are seeing results and relying on us more and more.

7. Having a Staff that Cares. Public servants should always there for the citizens, and realize that they are a direct reflection of the city they work for and love. Understanding our common objective, fosters a motivated and caring internal environment.

8. Customer Service Officers. Customer service is no longer limited to City Hall. With people like Customer Service Officers, we are out in the internal city agencies and departments and impacting people where it counts.

9. Partnering In and outside of the City. Especially with the implementation of the new customer relationship management system (CRM), private partners have played a significant role in helping us move towards our goals this year.

10. Taking Notes from business and tech communities. Paying attention to what private sector companies are doing, and translating them into our own practices, sets us a head of the curve.

The list could easily go on, and will as 2015 unfolds. I am excited about the future and so are the citizens.

Tell me what’s changing your industry and what you look forward to in the New Year.

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

What Can You Learn From Government Customer Service?

government

Many of us are acutely aware of the quality of customer service in the private sector, whether it’s in retail or B2B. However, one area that people often don’t think of themselves as customers is in their relationship with local government. Yet that is exactly what we are.

“Customers’ experience in government should be the same or even better than what they’re getting in the private sector,” says Rosetta Carrington Lue, chief customer service officer for the city of Philadelphia. “We shouldn’t treat them any differently because they’re dealing with a government entity.”

Lue says the relationship is actually deeper than in the private sector because these customers are more invested over a longer period of time — they own homes in the community and work and send their kids to school there. This presents a challenge, however, as it’s not easy for customers who don’t like the service they’re getting to “switch” to another provider (at least, not without moving out of town). Historically, government agencies have moved slowly in addressing customer service. “There was no urgency to get the ball moving when it came to making customer experience better,” says Lue.

Digital Age Holds Governments Accountable

The digital age is helping local governments improve. For one, new tools hold bureaucrats accountable. Like any business, the government has a brand to protect — with the goal of creating a happy community viewed as an attractive place to live. But one negative tweet could harm a city’s image.

“Back in the day when you had a complaint it would just stay within that community or department or person,” says Lue. “Now that same complaint can be spread internationally. Many public sector entities are seeing that they have to change. They have to be proactive when it comes to connecting with their customers.”

Social media has been instrumental in improving government customer service, especially for important announcements during emergencies. The key now is for local governments to have a presence on multiple channels. (The city of Philadelphia is on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and has a mobile app.) This not only helps officials reach a greater number of people, but also allows for better engagement. For example, The Philly311 Show on YouTube introduces citizens to the government employees who deliver the city’s services. Videos also highlight new tools for customer service, such as city-specific apps.

Social Media, Web Forums Coordinate Collaboration

One other area that digital communication makes an impact is in helping governments coordinate customer collaboration. Through social media and Web forums, citizens can now easily find like-minded people to work on projects, such as cleaning alleyways, planting trees in parks, and starting mentorship programs. This method of organizing generates faster and longer lasting results when compared with relying solely on government to make fixes.

“We’re working with communities so they have a vested interest in sustaining those changes,” says Lue. “We’re really targeting folks to come together and help solve a problem.

“The traditional way of governing is changing because customers are demanding that change,” she adds. “The days of one communication channel and 9 to 5 service is gone. We’re seeing that from federal to local government.”

Interview from Real Business Online Magazine dated December 1, 2014 written by Sachin Shenolikar and sponsored Xerox Corporation.

Reference: http://www.realbusiness.com/2014/12/customer-connection/what-can-you-learn-from-government-customer-service

3 Key Drivers Behind Improving Excellence in Government Public Service

City Hall

Private and public sectors are terms that are thrown around loosely no matter what end of the spectrum you or your business falls under. In government, it’s not unusual to hear people say, “Well if we were in the private sector…” In many instances the two seem like they are different worlds, but ultimately they are both used to describe parts of the economy, and what services each sector provides. Where the private sector part of the economy is concerned with private enterprises, the public sector is concerned with government services.

In customer service, it is imperative to know the difference between private and public sectors, because it helps define your customers’ needs. Though the terms are important, it’s not uncommon to see people use them incorrectly. But both the private sector and the public sector have distinct characteristic that distinguish them from each other.

The private sector is privately owned

The primary differences between the private and public sectors are who they employ and who they work for. The private sector is usually made up of privately owned organizations, like corporations. However, the private sector is not limited to big corporations and can include local business, credit unions, non-profit partnerships, and charities.

The public sector serves the public

The public sector mostly operates through organizations owned by the government, and as a result, public sector workers are paid by the government. These organizations can include: holding political office, the U.S Postal Service, and federal, state, or municipal governments. The public sector provides services that directly influence their governing province and/or country.

Private provides tangible products, while the public sector often outputs “anti-products.”

Ron Ross of The American Spectator put it nicely when he said, “The private sector’s products all around us — food, shelter, clothing, automobiles, home appliances, entertainment, for example. The public sector’s products include defense, the justice system, roads and highways, public schools, income redistribution (welfare), laws, and regulations…” It’s easy to recognize the private sector because of its products, yet it’s important not to overlook the significant services that the public sector provides.

We see that the private sector and public sector have their clear distinctions, yet they often find themselves in communication with each other. Customer service methods are a great way to share a dialoged between the two. Part of my job as the Chief Customer Service Officer is understanding that there are different approaches when it comes to customer service in both sectors. A customer is a customer regardless of the product, yet in the public sector, when your customer is the public, it is a little bit different. As a customer of Wal-Mart, if you are dissatisfied with the service you have experienced, you can go shop at Target. Most of the time, with public services, you can’t shop around. In the public sector we have long-term customers and our challenge is to provide them with the best customer service that we can.

Providing citizens with great customer service often means borrowing strategies from the private sector. Using social media as customer service tool, for example, is something that many successful businesses have done. We have implemented a similar strategy at the City of Philadelphia, but one that directly connects citizens with city services. Understanding what is being referenced, and being familiar with the distinctions, between private and public sectors, ultimately helps the public sector better meet citizens’ needs.

To learn about more differences between the private and public sector, check out Jan Mares’ “25 Differences Between Private Sector and Government Managers

NOTE: Interested in reading more Innovative Customer Service Strategies? Check out my blog at: http://www.rosettacarringtonlue.com