Today’s Morning Buzz is by Allie Camp. Connect with her on LinkedIn
Local government is not typically known for its customer service even though those who work in local government are dedicated to serving the public. Local government is sometimes more associated with regulation, fees, and politics versus customer friendliness and helpful resources. My name is Allie Camp, this is my first post on the Buzz, and I work in Oregon for the City of Eugene’s Planning and Development Department as a Development Analyst. Much of my daily work is spent finding ways to encourage development through incentives, development assistance, and good old-fashioned customer service.
So often City employees field questions for all City-related things. If you work at the City, you are the one-stop shop for details on every program, decision, and construction site. In Eugene, we are trying to encourage housing diversity, downtown development, and manufacturing investment. Each of these sectors is complex, even for those who do it all the time. Every site is different, and every project comes with budget, design, and practicality limitations. The City of Eugene has started an initiative that approaches customer service for development projects with the same one-stop shop manner we experience so often from residents, and we are hoping to make a difference in that age-old perception that government is difficult to work with. This initiative is called the Development Investment Group, DIG for short. By being able to answer most of these more complex questions or connect folks to resources they need for their project, we can hopefully keep projects from reaching roadblocks and develop a positive relationship with community members. We want community members to continue investing in Eugene so that they take on another small housing project, build another hotel, or invest in revitalizing another downtown business.
Customer service is so important. By building this foundation of helpfulness, we are playing the long game to build community trust. This trust can snowball into public support, increased engagement, and community champions. I hope this post encourages you to be helpful in ways that you know how, and ways that you are able. Take the time to connect customers to the next step of their projects. You are their link to the process and their impression of local government.