Monday, June 25, 2018

CDPS Customer Connection: Are You My Customer?

According to author Ken Miller, one of the “myths” of public sector work is that governments don’t have customers. After all, can a citizen choose where to get a driver’s license or a hunting permit? While government may not have customers in the same sense that the private sector has customers, every public employee provides a product or a service to a specific end user. Yes, public employees ultimately serve the taxpayers and citizens, but each of us also has at least one direct internal or external customer. Your direct customer may be the colleague sitting next to you, or it could be a teacher applying for a fingerprint-based background check. We each also have stakeholders and beneficiaries that indirectly benefit from our work, or have an interest in how the work is done.

As a public employee, how do you identify your direct customer?

  • A direct customer can generally be defined as a person or group that consumes the product or service provided. 
  • A stakeholder is a person or group that affects or is affected by the product or service provided, but that does not directly consume the product or service. 
  •  A beneficiary is a person or group that indirectly benefits from the product or service provided. Taxpayers, for example, are beneficiaries of every government service, though all taxpayers may not be direct customers of each product or service. 
Improving customer service means knowing exactly who it is we serve and the “product” we deliver.

During the “Hangout with Hilkey” earlier this month, we challenged CDPS employees to create customer lists. If you’ve created your customer list already, thank you! If you haven’t done so yet, there’s still time to take a few minutes to list your customers. All lists that are submitted to will be entered in a drawing for a prize in early July.

 From “An Organization Your Customers Understand,” by Robert Simons (2005), here’s a list of key questions to help you create or refine your customer list:

  • What services do you provide? By function? Touchpoint? 
  • What is the value of the interaction (quantitative or qualitative)? 
  • Who does your mission statement say that you serve? 
  • Who do your employees & colleagues think that you serve? 
  • Who do people outside of your organization think you serve? 
  • What individuals, groups does your organization directly affect through regular interactions? 
  • What behaviors are you able to affect, drive? 
  • What individuals, groups influence the way you provide your service /product? 
  • Who does not directly consume your service / product, but benefits? 

 At CDPS, FY2019 is the Year of the Customer, which means maintaining a customer focus in all that we do and soliciting and incorporating customer feedback to make continuous improvement. Throughout the year, we will be sharing customer service tools and tips and also highlighting examples of great customer service by CDPS members. If you have a customer service success story or lesson to share, we’d love to feature it here!

This article was written by Jana Locke, with reference and images from OSPB Performance Academy 2015.

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