Leading in Customer Service

Whether you are Director of Finance at a City, a County Manager or a Public Works Manager, providing customer service to other departments or to citizens is everyone’s job and it’s job #1.  As a leader you should be involved in the design, implementation and measurement of a customer service strategy to ensure your department is serving others well. 

Citizens are becoming more and more accustomed to next day delivery and ease of shopping all brought about by customer service innovation at Amazon and other online retailers.   They’ve tried to perfect the experience of shopping and they’ve raised the bar for other providers of services, including cities and counties.

In this blog we want to share six service strategies you can oversee to ensure the delivery of exceptional customer service in your department, city or county.

#1 Define Success

As a leader or manager, you should oversee the successful definition of customer service to your citizens or the employee you serve. In creating a customer service standard, you may want to make two lists:

  • One called “What is standard basic customer service? Ex: Like a warm greeting from each employee
  • And another list called “What is exceptional customer service? Ex: Like walking citizens through an online process (step-by-step)

Having a written standard of customer service will give you and your team something to aim for.

#2 Focus on Your Team

Put your focus on those in your department that provide customer service versus a focus on the customer.   If you support and equip the team well, the customers will be handled just fine.  Your team is your customer!

#3 Empowerment

Establish general guidelines for what each customer service person can do to solve customer issues, then allow them flexibility to do what is best from their perspective.   You may have to coach a few employees from time to time, but your team will feel empowered and trusted and odds are….they’ll make the right calls.

#4 Data Access

Ensure that your employees serving citizens or other employees have access to files, best practices, systems and resources they need to provide good support.   

A centralized place for policies, guidelines and best practices, can help your team provide fast and consistent service to customers.   And UPDATE records, policies as you go.

#5 Measure Success

As a leader you can work with your team to develop a way to measure success.   A simple three question survey while customers are present can work, or perhaps an email survey afterwards will work.   You want to be able to determine quantitatively if you are reaching the goal you set out. 

#6 Create a customer service process and promote it

As the leader you can help establish consistency by helping the team establish a step-by-step process for every customer encounter.

The process should be posted behind the counter for each employee to see each day.  Promote the process through an acronym if you want.  Talk about the process regularly so the team knows it’s important.  You might use an acronym like popular “GUEST”:

G – Greet: Look up, smile, ask/say their name and say your name

U – Understand: Take time to understand exactly what their need or issue is, so you respond to the right problem

E - Educate / Eye Contact: Educate them on what you can or can’t do; educate them on areas they don’t understand / make eye contact

S – Satisfy:  Resolve their issue; satisfy their need efficiently

T - Thank you:  Always say “thank you for coming in today, we appreciate your being here.” 

As a leader you have a role in ensuring that your approach and process of customer service supports the team and meets the customer’s demands in a smooth and consistent way.  

If you or your team would like to explore our monthly workshop series on management, teamwork and leadership, let us know.  




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