For those of you who are pressed for time, I’ll give you the take-aways first. There are 4:
1 Be prepared for success.
Business intelligence is only intelligent business if you have the intelligence to use it.
Usability testing is not an option – it’s a necessity!
Service recovery is a best practice for a reason.
Be prepared for success! At a strategic level, this means being prepared to deal with your successful implementation of shared services. But this maxim also applies to tactical successes whether they happen when fielding a new system or launching a new service. When I read that a company was caught unaware by success I am dumbfounded. If you are a CEO of a growing company and have strategized and planned for months to achieve a milestone in sales, how can you not be prepared when your hard work pays off? If you are making system changes that add a new feature that you think will delight users, how can you not be prepared when users embrace the change in large numbers? And yet this happens time and time again.
In Part 1 of Moving the Needle on Government Customer Service I talked about the state of customer service in government and compared customer service in industry and in government. In Part 2 I talked about the impact of government’s haphazard approach to customer service on employees, organizations and the public. In this third and last post on the subject I cover why government customer service as a whole lags behind industry and what to do to move the needle.
Government has been slow setting up call centers. Do not confuse a receptionist who answers the phone and routes calls with a contact center. Businesses know intuitively that product and service go hand in hand. A good product but poor customer service will have the same affect over time as selling a lousy product. To businesses customer service is part of the product life cycle. To government customer service is an add-on, a necessary evil.
Government employees are not trained in customer service. This doesn’t mean that government employees receive no training in customer service. Rather since customer service is not a job in and of itself, the training is general in nature. Contrast the customer service training the HR specialist who also answers customer calls in government gets with the customer service training that a customer service representative who also handles HR calls in industry gets.
The is part 1 of a 3 part post on moving the needle on customer service in government.
You cannot talk about efficiency in government without talking about customer service. You cannot do customer service well without the tools, strategy and training needed to manage relationships with your customer. Customer service means managing your interactions with recipients of your services. We have all heard a fair number of horror stories about government customer service and have probably contributed a few ouirselves. Bashing government customer service is almost a national pastime. The public’s perception is that the customer service you get from government is not as good as the service you get from the private sector. Generally this is true but not because government employees are not as dedicated or hard working as employees in the private sector.
New Year’s Resolutions for your shared services center
I put together a list of New Year’s resolutions for your shared services center. These are ideas or initiatives that shared services center executives overlook or are too busy to attend to. None of these are big ticket items so they are well within the budget of a government shared services center. They focus your attention on the fundamentals of service delivery and are panaceas for complacency.
1Call your customer contact center as a customer. If you run a shared services center you probably do not get service in the same way that your customers do. If you have a question about your leave and earnings statement, for example, you probably pick up the phone and call your payroll chief. What you probably do not do is call your shared services center’s 1-800 number and get in the queue. You miss an opportunity to experience your customer service interface the way your customers do. To listen to your call menu and make judgments, like your customers do, about the quality of the interface and the timeliness of the service.