Jennifer Jones, Village of Oak Park (IL) Parking Permits Supervisor, authors a new series on customer service in local government. She brings ten years of experience in local government and a wealth of ideas for promoting customer service in all levels of the organization.
The Personality of the Guest
Jennifer Jones, Village of Oak Park (IL), Parking Permits Supervisor
June 25, 2014
Local government has changed quite a bit over the last decade. Staff at all levels of city hall are being asked to do more with less, and customer service is often a casualty of this “new normal.” With that in mind, I’d like to encourage us to “stop and smell the roses” and make sure we’re doing all we can on the customer service front.
The traditional definition of customer service is “a series of activities designed to enhance the level of customer satisfaction — that is, the feeling that a product or service has met the customer expectation.” No matter what line of service we contribute to in government, customer service plays a strong role.
Working in customer service for more than 10 years, one of the biggest situations that I have encountered involve miscommunication between the employee and customer. In Oak Park, Illinois, most departments interact face-to-face with residents, contractors, and visitors each day.
As employees, we must adjust ourselves to the “personality of the guest.” Sometimes that involves taking extra time for Q&A with the customer to find out exactly how to assist them. Oftentimes in busy seasons, we are quick to redirect someone to another individual or department. A better solution is to stop and try to get clear information from the citizen or customer on exactly what their needs are and the best way you can assist in meeting those needs.
Whether we are preparing for budget season, selling city stickers, helping residents open businesses, processing summer building permit projects or leading citizen commissions, let’s stop for a few moments and make sure we are asking the right questions to assist customers and offering clear direction on the service we’re giving them. Strong, clear, concise communication (and a being a little personable) goes a long way.
This focus on customer service got a national boost on April 27, 2011, when President Obama issued an executive order to improve customer service across all sectors of government. Are you making your contribution towards this improvement plan?
Make your contribution today!