Top 5 Customer Service Tips: Lessons From Philadelphia

In GovLoop’s Agency of the Future Guide to Customer Service, we provide you with tips and best practices for improving customer service in government. To unearth some of these recommendations, we interviewed Rosetta Carrington Lue, the chief customer service officer for the city of Philadelphia. Lue, over the past couple of years, has implemented three successful customer service initiatives, which are listed below.

In addition to the above programs, Lue has spearheaded the initiation of three new customer service projects for the city of Philadelphia. These include:

  • Citizen Widget Design Contest
  • Youth Neighborhood Liaison Program
  • Philly 311 TV Program

From her experience, Lue offered five tips for improving your customer service program. These recommendations are discussed more in the guide, but to give you a sneak peek, here are some of the highlights:

  1. Remember that Change Must Come from the Top: Leadership from managers and senior officials is essential. It motivates personnel and provides guidance regarding which changes should be made and what defines a successful customer service program.
  2. Know Your Customer and Assess Their Needs: Evaluate the context, limitations, and advantages of your customers and then tailor your program accordingly. For instance, do your customers have access to the Internet or smartphones? Your objective, in the end, is to design a customer service program that meets the needs of your citizens while taking their environment into consideration.
  3. Pursue Citizen Engagement: Involving citizens in government customer service programs can save your agency money, increase transparency, and provide key insights into how to improve the delivery of public goods and services.
  4. Use Technology as a Customer Service Tool: Take advantage of technological advancements to increase customer access to government resources and personnel and to promote transparency.
  5. Never Stop Improving: As technology changes and customers’ needs shift, be sure to continuously evaluate and tweak your customer service program. Small changes such as expanding your initiatives to reach more people or offering your services in different languages can have a huge impact on the long-term success of your customer service program.

For more customer service improvement tips, be sure to check out the Agency of the Future Guide to Customer Service.


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Dale M. Posthumus

My only quibble with these points is that it appears, from the first point, good customer service is driven from the leadership. What about the people in the trenches? If management/leadership does not pay attention to what the people doing the job every day think about improvements, innovation, and what the customer wants/needs, I believe efforts are ultimately doomed to mediocrity. This is where the role of management is to encourage ideas and experimentation from one’s staff, and give them room to succeed and fail. Not only management has good ideas.