Monday, February 29, 2016

Improving "customer" service--government-style

Tracey Haugen and Jodi Simco, Nextgov, Feb 24, 2016, both with Deloitte Consulting's Federal Human Capital Project, says many agencies are trying to increase customer satisfaction with their services--customers, of course, are citizens and others needing govt assistance.

The consult Gallup and other sources, but also do their own research.

But--these two say--the agencies may be overlooking a valuable source of info--the front-line employee, who may have signed on to the government to help and finds their agency is not really helping.

This can reduce employee engagement, leading to sloppy or slow handling of people's problems.

Ever heard of dopey or slow service from an agency? Well, who hasn't?

What are signs that all is not well in the employee ranks?

--Passion but reluctance to advance.  The employee may opt to stay where he or she knows the ropes and can help--and does not believe the agency can produce the promised results from the higher level.

--Trouble attracting and keeping talent. If an agency can't keep IT and cybersecurity people, this may be a warning sign.

--Employees are also frustrated dealing with the agency for themselves or family members.

--Customer experience data. People complain in surveys, on forms, by email, by complaints to press.

What can agencies do...

--Establish a better line of right between front-line employees and customer needs. Ask the help line people, for instance, what people bitch about most, the irritating phone robot, dropped calls, many searches for a supervisor, etc.

--Try to be more customer-centric. IT programs deal with transactions--but this may put the human being into more than one jackpot, as I call them. Think is terms of helping the person, not turfing him or her around to different depts and specialists.

--Imagine an environment in which the customer is at the top, and the frontline employee is next. Everyone else is there to service those two tiers. Heaven, right?

It would also help if you do not ask the person's phone number twice, say how much you value them when you obviously don't or at least not enough to hire more people, and hand them around from rep to rep with a cheerful, "So-and-So will help you now..." And So-and-So then says, "Hi, what can I do, but first what is your phone number?"

Apparently nobody in customer service has caller ID--and this includes the phone company.

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