Jack Shaw

I’ve been a customer service manager and community relations manager. True, they are different functions, but when you have good relations with the community (citizen engagement), it helps customer service. Customer service can be done at the operational level, where the same people can make something happen. I don’t think it wrong to have “citizen engagement” or community relations at that level, too. It wouldn’t hurt to invite several “levels” to the same community function as long as we are still one family. When I was doing customer service, it was at a level where I had to contact someone at the operational level of a state government and ask for them to look into the situation. I was not the boss of them so we had to have understandings as government entities. When a state had a great outreach effort, my organization supported it 100 percent. As a community relations manager it was my job to encourage good working relationships so that misunderstandings often handled by customer service didn’t occur, but I still see them so closely related. In my last job, I did both and would encourage other organizations to work together for the same effort. If you know the problems, you go out into the community armed with answers and if you don’t you have to come back to those who do have the answers–the same people.