Part 2: Customer Service – The Secret Recipe

Jan 14
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You may have tuned into the first instalment of ‘Understanding the customer experience’ where the secret ingredient was revealed. If not, make sure you check out the ‘tricks of the trade’. This instalment presents the ‘customer service recipe’ – written by our guest blogger Mr Steve Griffin, Deputy CEO of Service NSW.    Happy cooking! 1. Understand your customers, their preferences and expectations. You need to ask them how they want to access government services; at what times of the day/night; by what channel. Then you need to understand the preferences and expectations of customers segments i.e. micro and small businesses access and consume government service much more frequently than the average citizen. However, they are often treated just the same. Business is a ‘frequent flyer’ user of government service and is the most vocal when service is not good. As such Government agencies should be tailoring special offerings to meet the specific needs of this important segment of customers. 2. Multi-Channel delivery Just like the private sector, consumers of government services have different preferences for the channel that that use to access services. Government agencies need to ensure that they offer the right proportion of face-to-face, phone and digital channels to access. Research has shown that the vast majority if consumers of government services don’t want to wait in queues in service centres or on the phone. They want to be able to transact with government on-line. Accordingly, providing a customer-friendly digital experience is key. Customers are happy to do the data entry for government agencies and pay whatever fee is required, in their own time, at home or in the office. So smart forms etc need to developed and made available. Key information needs to be easily accessible within one to two clicks at most. 3. Convenient Access Government needs to be accessible to its customers when they need it i.e 24/7. Customers of Government services don’t simply operate between 9am and 5pm. They need government to be open for business when they’re doing business. Accordingly, good government service provides face-to-face service options beyond the typical 9 to 5 week day. This should also be complimented with a 24/7 phone service capability and great digital experience as mentioned above. 4. Reduce Customer Effort – Make it simple for customers to access your services and complete transaction Just like the private sector, the customers of government services appreciate a reduction in the effort it takes to access and complete service transactions. A good customer service experience will result from government agencies which look to streamlining processes in addition to providing easier access. Accordingly, government agencies should be measuring customer effort and working towards reducing process steps etc. 5. Provide Customers with choice Currently, most government service centres or call centres don’t provide customers with choice. Customer’s experience will be enhanced if they are given choices. In addition to provide channel access choice, customers should be given the choices as to whether they wait in queues for servicing. i.e they do not have to wait in a queue or on the phone if they don’t want to. If given the option, many customers would prefer to come back later when wait times are less. Accordingly, government agencies should advise customers of wait times and provide call back or appointment bookings to customers. This far superior to the current frustrating practice of simply telling customer that they will be attended to by the next operator etc. By telling the customer the likely wait time, they will determine whether they are willing to invest that much of their personal time in the transaction. 6. Employ and reward customer-centric staff At the end of the day, we’re all human beings and it is the way we are treated as a person that makes all the difference when it comes to delivering a great customer experience. Being greeted by a smiling customer service representative, who is friendly, attentive and helpful goes a long way to delivering a great customer experience. Customer-centric people have certain character and personality traits (such as empathy) that enable them to deliver good customer service. Front-line customer service staff should be selected on the basis of these ‘soft-skills’ rather than any technical skills, which can always be learnt later. They then need to rewarded for demonstrating excellent customer-centric behaviours. So a good rewards and recognition program for frontline staff is key. 7. Customer-Centric Leadership Culture A great customer service experience will never be delivered unless it is led from the top. The executive of the government agency have to role model customers centric behaviours and support customer centric culture. Get on the font-line from time to time to understand with customer service staff to understand the barriers to delivering better customers service and understand their customers. If the executive of the government agency doesn’t believe that excellent front-line customer service is part of their core business then they should outsource it. photo credit: pirate johnny via photopin cc

Submitted by Criterion Content Team

Criterion Content Team

This post has been written by the Criterion Conferences Content Team. Based in Sydney, we are an independent research organisation, producing over 90 conferences a year across a variety of industries. Our events, attended by thousands of senior delegates from the public and private sector, are designed to enrich, inspire and motivate. Our focus is on providing innovative, value adding content via our conferences and blogs like this are extension of that principle. You can view our conferences by visiting our website

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