Local Governments Can Assist Businesses By Improving Customer Service
Businesses understand the importance of making interactions with customers as easy as possible. Most local governments have a long way to go as far as improving their approach to customer service. Recognizing that government is complicated, New York City Mayor Michael Bloomberg has launched a Business Customer Service Initiative to make it easier for businesses to deal with government offices.
Bloomberg’s Customer Service Initiative for businesses involves the following:
- Appointing the City’s first Chief Business Operations Officer, a new, dedicated position that will oversee the initiative and serve as the lead official ensuring that business-friendly practices are made permanent where possible.
- Enabling businesses to pay license, permit and other fees, including taxes, online.
- Making it possible for businesses to apply online for the necessary licenses, permits and other credentials they need to open their doors.
- Reducing the number of agencies involved in issuing permits.
- Reporting on the progress of these initiatives every 90 days.
Some interesting facts that show how important it is to improve the bureaucracy of government for businesses:
- New York City issues 300 business-related licenses and permits – but less than a quarter of them can be applied for online. Bloomberg believes that in 2012, a business owner shouldn’t have to leave his or her business in the middle of the day to visit an office and fill out a paper application.
- While some items are able to be paid online, businesses are often forced to come to city offices during certain hours, or to pay someone to come on their behalf, and to bring cashiers or other checks.
In addition to this Customer Service initiative, a previously established Regulatory Review Panel, a joint initiative of the Bloomberg Administration and the City Council, has identified ways to make New York City more supportive of small businesses. The Regulatory Review Panel:
- Is working to improve the permit process for “Place of Assembly” – businesses in which 75 or more people gather indoors by reducing the number of steps in this process by more than 20 percent, eliminating unnecessary steps and an unnecessary handoff between city agencies.
- Continuing improvements to the sidewalk café approval process. Since 2003 the number of agencies involved in this process has been reduced from six to three, and the approval processing time has been cut roughly in half. The number of sidewalk cafes has grown from 700 to 1100. Efforts are continuing to reduce the number agencies involved to one and to further shorten the approval process.
Forming a Regulatory Review Panel and implementing a Business Customer Service initiative is a great way to help local businesses in your community.