On April 27, 2011, President Obama issued an Executive Order titled Streamlining Service Delivery and Improving Customer Service. The Order directed each federal agency within 180 days to develop a Customer Service Plan that addresses how the agency will provide services in a manner that seeks to streamline service delivery and improve the experience of its customers.

The Customer Service Plan must include the following:

  • One major initiative (signature initiative) that will utilize technology to improve the customer experience;
  • Establishing mechanisms to solicit customer feedback on services and using such feedback to regularly make service improvements;
  • Setting clear customer service standards and expectations by way of performance goals;
  • Streamlining agency processes to reduce costs and accelerate delivery, while reducing the need for customer calls and inquiries;
  • Identifying ways to use innovative technologies to accomplish the customer service activities above , thereby lowering costs, decreasing service delivery times, and improving the customer experience.

A friend of mine went to a local government office to pay a bill and was told no one was there to provide an adequate receipt as the “girls went to lunch.”  When asked when they would return she was informed that one employee sometimes never comes back from lunch.  My friend eventually made her way to the Treasury office where she was bounced from one line to two others since she came in from the front door but the signage was at the rear entry.

Frustrating experiences like the above happen everyday in government offices. If you are a County Executive, Mayor or town Supervisor you have the ability to issue a directive to your department heads requiring them to develop a Customer Service Plan. If you are a Legislator, Councilmember or Board member of a local government, you have the ability to introduce a Resolution requesting that department heads be required to prepare a Customer Service Plan. If you are a concerned citizen you can send a letter/email to your elected officials explaining why developing a Customer Service Plan is a good idea. If you file your request in writing with the clerk for the Legislature, city council, town or village board, your request can be on the agenda for discussion at an upcoming meeting.

Many elected officials talk about creating government that is customer friendly but few actually require their department heads to take steps in writing and in practice to actually improve the delivery of services and customer service.

What do you think about the idea of local government department heads creating a Customer Service Plan?