Leveraging the power of citizen engagement to dramatically improve customer service, agency focus and cost efficiency.
Is there a financial upside to good customer service?
May 26, 2011 at 2:49 pm #131329
There’s been some pretty cool coverage of the President’s Executive Order issued in April. His order asks us to place emphasis on customer service and implement a number of ideas to improve our customer connections.
I encourage you to look at a fellow GovLoop member’s response to this issue here. She did a nice job covering the basics of the order:
While a lot has been written about what’s in it for the customer, I submit that there are substantial benefits to the government as well – both in terms of financial gain and quality.
Sure, implementing the President’s recommendations might look like they are costing money – especially if we use “old school” methods to implement them. But I submit that the numbers aren’t so bad. In fact, if we lean on recent advances in technology (like Web 2.0), the numbers are really positive.
Communicating with customers used to be cumbersome. Then we have the problem of doing something about what customers have to say. If they say something bad, we have damage control. If they offer good suggestions, we have the challenge of balancing those suggestions against other priorities. There is pain involved.
But check it out: Web 2.0 is cheap. Really cheap. We have been creating scores of “apps” in about 4 hours each. They don’t cost anythig more than the labor costs to create. These apps generate interaction.
The interaction costs money and creativity to manage. But when managed well, it produces fruit. Customers are naturally occurring resources. They test our products for us. They augment quality control. They give us investment ideas. And they help use prioritize.
When we tap into customers intelligently, we tap into an ocean of power, just waiting to be harnessed. It makes sense that if you jump in the ocean and don’t know how to swim, you’re going to drown. But there are people and organization popping up every day that have skills we can put to work.
I am a former ISO 9001 auditor. This ISO process is build around the idea of incorporating customer feedback into daily process. The ISO manuals are free to read, and even if your organization doesn’t want to take the plunge and committ to a challenging ISO certification, it can benefit from the materials.
I submit that if we take an honest look at what we do, there are lot’s of opportunities to incorporate customer input. A little homework will make incorporating customer feedback a value-added exercise. Done right, it will save us money, and improve the quality of the products and services we offer.
May 26, 2011 at 3:50 pm #131343
My favorite tips:
- Focus on your greeting – what you say, your expression, and your tone.
- Send complete email responses that include greetings and signature blocks with phone numbers.
- Treat every customer as if they were your only customer.
June 6, 2011 at 1:15 pm #131341
Yes. You get to remain employed. This is not just a joke.
Also, if we deliver the services the customers want, which empower the employees they will be more engaged or motivated to perform their job and also be retained. Both of the last two terms increase cost effectiveness.
June 6, 2011 at 1:53 pm #131339
Wendi Pomerance BrickParticipant
There is so much waste in all the processes. When people think of great service, they always first think about “being nice.” That’s only part of the picture. Great service is also “fast service” and “accurate service.” If you are really nice to me, and give me the wrong answer, that’s bad service. If you’re really nice, know the answer, and can’t process my request for 3 weeks, that’s not good service either.
Focusing on streamlining processes absolutely saves money. I have personally been part of efforts that cut 50-75% of the steps in some of the more daunting and siloed processes around. If you cut 50% of the steps, you can serve twice and many people in the same amount of time. You can cycle twice as many requests. Locally, you can bring in revenue twice as quickly.
Streamlining and customer service makes great sense philosophically and operationally.
One point to keep in mind, and I see this every day, many of those that use government services do not have computer access, but everyone does have a phone. Focusing on services over the telephone is really impactful, and whatever we do for technology offerings, streamlining the process before automating it is critical to success.
June 6, 2011 at 1:56 pm #131337
Great points. Too often I think people focus in the damage control/balancing priorities piece, rather than seeing the big-picture benefits.
September 28, 2012 at 4:08 pm #131335
Wendi – I like this. Would add that an agency that has good customer service is a more effective agency. They have a way to process and incorporate feedback from customers into their processes. They may be able to eliminate or condense services that are not adding value and focus on the ones that are.
September 28, 2012 at 4:09 pm #131333
Absolutely, Alicia! Benefits like the ISO 9000 process points out – a customer feedback loop is very useful if used to help guide the organization’s strategy! Good will makes politics easier, which in turn produces more resources down the road.
September 28, 2012 at 4:10 pm #131331
Internal employee morale and the correlation to resources spent – an interesting concept, Carol.
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