What I’m Doing – Putting in hardwood floors and baseboards
What I’m Watching – October Faction on Netflix
What I’m listening to – Alan Walker – Different World
When many of us think of citizen engagement, the first thoughts are of the digital interactions wrapped up in customer surveys, responsive web portals and 311 mobile services. We try our darndest to connect the resources available with the people who need or want services using targeted technologies.
There’s a potential pitfall though in that we might latch on to just the “front office” aspects of reaching the public and neglect the importance of consistency and excellence out on the front lines. Every water main break that gets fixed, a park district course that gets taught, lifeguards at the community pool…these are all opportunities to provide the highest level of public service – which is the noblest form of customer service. Each of these community endpoints are just as important in demonstrating the “brand” that we in government want to impart to the public we serve.
If someone were to ask me, “Oh, are you in sales?” Particularly in local government, the answer should ALWAYS be yes. We’re selling local government in every aspect of our operations – every policy decision, every community event, every disgruntled call that comes in – they all represent a chance to leave our communities (and the citizens within) better than they were before each interaction.
Yes, we all have jurisdictions, political spheres of influence, and in most cases are the sole providers of various essential community services; but your citizens can always vote with their feet. We daily have an opportunity to make good on the pledge and demonstrate that we are providing the best possible public service at the lowest appropriate cost. That we are good stewards of not just the public’s money, but also their trust by pursuing innovation in many forms, both at City Hall and on the streets and neighborhoods of the community.
We shouldn’t be motivated to be the best in local government just so our citizens don’t leave for a neighboring community – it should be (and for many of you I know it already is) the standard mode of operation for local government. When we get there, we’ll no longer be celebrating excellence in local government on an annual basis – rather it will be the paradigm shift we are all seeking (we still need the ELGL Traeger Awards until such time to serve as models and beacons!).
We don’t want to completely flip the script or tear down the walls in government – resiliency, consistency and reliability are core tenets of what makes government valuable and essential to modern society. Rather, the goal should be to step up and answer the call to reinvent the relationship between government and community, one sale at a time.