The Customer Service series is supported by RightNow Technologies. To learn more on how to use cloud technology to improve customer service, visit the RightNow resource center today. Check out the GovLoop/RightNow Customer Service Hub to get smart on how to be awesome at customer service
This is post 1 of the new "Customer Service" series I'm excited to write on GovLoop. Every week we'll be exploring issues of how government is dealing with the new customer service demands from citizens and how to meet the new mandates at the federal level.
We'll be discussing tools, tips, examples of how to make government customer service as great as Zappos (and definitely better than the cable company). Please let me know if there are certain topics, questions, examples you want me to cover - would love it
On to the first post....
Lately, there's been more and more focus on the power of customer service.
Apple has grown like crazy in the last decade with a story built around "geniuses" that they recruit heavily and go out of their way to help you. Zappos is famous for being not an online shoe company but an entire organization focused around one mission: to provide the best customer service possible. Starbucks promises to make your double venti soy macciato perfect with a smile every time.
Now it's government's turn. On April 27th, President Obama published a new executive order entitled "Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service" with the focus of improving quality of service to the public. Agency's must create agency customer service plans and activities by the end of October and report back to the public.
This is not the first time the government has focused on customer service.
In 1993, Executive Order 12862 (Setting Customer Service Standards) required agencies that provide significant services directly to the public to identify and survey their customers, establish service standards and track performance against those standards, and benchmark customer service performance against the best in business.
Additionally there were Presidential Memos in 1995 and 1998 with titles such as "Improving Customer Service" and a "Conversations with America" to Further Improve Customer Service".
Now, more than ever, customer service is critical to leaving a positive impression on citizens and meeting your mission needs.
And the number of channels and new ways where people expect customer service is exploding.
Here are just a couple examples lately:
1) Restaurants - recently a restaurant I went to that had a wait asked for my phone number and said they'd text me when my table was ready. That's a change form the clunky thing that turns red.
2) Flights - When a plane is delayed whether it's weather, a ton of folks goes on Twitter to complain. It's not perfect but people expect a response or minimally some information.
3) Wi-fi everywhere - I dropped off my car for an oil change. The lobby used to just have bad TV and bad coffee. Now we expect it to have Wi-fi to work. Are government buildings like DMV and court houses prepared?
4) Passwords - I recently forgot my password to my federal TSP retirement account. They actually mailed me my password 4 days later. In contrast to my Vanguard and ING Direct where if I forget my password, they let me reset it in 10 seconds or worst case can call in and fix.
5) Everything online - My #1 thing I want to do with my normal customer service is avoid humans. If I have a problem, the first thing I do is google for 10 minutes trying to find an answer. And we expect to find the answer in places like Apple support forums. And this isn't just the easy top 10 questions but the tens of thousands of long-tail questions.
With the changes in technology, demographics, and cultural norms, there is such opportunity for government to improve its customer service. As such, RightNow and GovLoop have teamed up to provide you with this Customer Service Hub to meet the new executive order requirements due this fall. You will find an on-going blog series as well as great tools, groups, dialogues, and events. If there are topics or issues you want us to cover, let us know. Should be a blast.