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Customer Service: The Heart of Public Service

If I’m being entirely honest, I was somewhat reluctant to write ANOTHER article about customer service. Probably tied for most popular workplace topic, alongside articles on “stress in the workplace”, aka, next week’s blog. However, after, some serious contemplation I came to the understanding that customer service is the heart of most organizations, especially within public service, and it deserves the attention it receives.

Customer service, in its most basic interpretation, is the direct one-on-one interaction between a consumer and a seller. So, customer service only applies to the retail and hospitality industries, right? Wrong! In its broadest sense, customer service is simply about meeting the needs of others. Something the majority of us do each and every day of our lives, at work and home. As a public servant, we provide customer service to the public and act in the public’s best interest.

Frequently, public service is performed for those who are in need. Even though the task performed for them may not seem like much, it may make a world of difference in the life of the person receiving it. Within the public sector, exceptional customer service has the potential to change a person’s life for the better.

Here is a mnemonic, also known as a memory aid to help you remember three key concepts of exceptional customer service:


Consistency – Customers wish to be treated well, respected, understood and to get the services they want. They want a good experience and the assurance of having the same good experience every time they seek your services.

Attentiveness – Divided attention is a cognitive ability that is very important in our daily lives because it makes it possible to carry out tasks quickly and efficiently. You might know this as multitasking. Sustained attention, is the ability to focus on a specific task for a continuous amount of time without being distracted. While difficult, I believe this is the best method to ensure high-quality customer service.

Nice – First impressions, make lasting impressions and are unlikely to ever change, so it’s important to think about the impression you want to leave. Be mindful of your mood, and make an extra effort to be polite and respectful even when you don’t feel like it. My advice…just be nice!

“People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” – Theodore Roosevelt

Debra Fox is a GovLoop Featured Contributor. She is a Business Marketing Specialist with Iowa Workforce Development. She partners with employers, community agencies and economic development professionals to promote employability programs and large scale workforce initiatives to eligible stakeholders. Before taking this role Debra worked as an HR professional in the private sector. Her passion to serve others has been a driving force throughout her career. Debra is a coordinator for the Employers’ Council of Iowa. She is a national and local SHRM, CHCSEIA and NAWDP member. She holds a dual degree from Iowa Wesleyan University in Psychology and Sociology, along with PHR and SHRM-CP certifications.

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