Across the last year, improving customer service and increasing transparency have been two major priorities for organizations. Given this, I was curious to know what agencies were actually doing. As I was scrolling through some of the Customer Service Plan Signature initiatives, I came across HUD’s Ideas in Action. I immediately liked this plan as it empowers employees and the public to share ideas on how to improve the organization. People can post ideas, vote on ones they like best, and interact with HUD employees and other citizens. In line with becoming more transparent, this project also gives employees and the public more insight into how decisions are made. What I like most about this initiative is the employee engagement emphasis. Employees should be at the center of any customer service initiative for it to be effective.
Simply put, employee engagement is important because happy, capable employees almost always provide better customer service than disenfranchised, unhappy employees. Research also shows that employee turnover and customer satisfaction are directly correlated. Generally, the higher the turnover rate in the agency, the lower the customer service rating. Investing in your employees and instilling in them the mission and values of the organization can go a long way towards employee satisfaction and engagement. If employees are invested and enjoy what they do, they will be more responsive to customers and more likely to follow new customer service initiatives. It is also important to empower employees to go above and beyond to satisfy the customer and reward, in some capacity, excellent customer service moments.
Engagement is also important for collaboration. Creating an open, positive work environment and implementing a way to share ideas (comment box, online system, weekly meetings etc) is just the beginning. Employees also need to care about the future of the organization. With more employees looking for ways to improve service, especially those interacting with customers often, the more innovative the ideas. Going back to HUD’s Ideas in Action, implementing employee’s ideas further encourages participation and creativity because employees know their ideas are being recognized.
Improving customer service and engagement in government (among employees and the public) is obviously very challenging. But I think it is safe to say that the more you can involve employees and instill the value of improved customer service from the very beginning, the more successful your organization will be.
You can view HUD’s Ideas in Action website here.
How does your agency empower employees to improve service?
|The Federal Consulting Group (FCG) is a franchise within the U.S. Department of the Interior. As the successor to the Federal Quality Institute, FCG has been advising and assisting federal agencies for more than 20 years with many of their senior consultants achieving results in large, high-profile government programs and projects. Check out their “Citizen Engagement & Customer Service” group on GovLoop as well as the Communications & Citizen Engagement Sub-Community of which they are a council member.|