“Interventions” Improve Customer Service for North Carolina City

Some material excerpted from a story first appearing on the website of the North Carolina Local Government Budget Association, written by this same author.

ASPA members Evans Ballard (City of Salisbury, NC) and Dr. William Rivenbark (UNC School of Government) co-wrote the cover article for this month’s edition of Public Management, the magazine of the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA). Their work summarized a multi-year project that Ballard, along with his employer, Salisbury (NC) City Manager David Treme, undertook to transform their City’s organizational culture toward a preeminent focus on providing residents with the highest possible quality of customer service.

Salisbury’s emphasis on customer service came about when performance surveying results indicated citizen disappointment and apathy toward the public attitude of City staff. Treme responded by developing a focus of customer service excellence as the City’s “hedgehog concept”, an idea he gained by reading Jim Collins‘ management text, Good to Great. Focusing on customer service excellence, Treme and Ballard utilized citizen surveying and a facilitator-led “intervention” strategy to transform the City’s staff culture in order to achieve their goal.

ICMA has posted the article online, along with this video interview with Treme and Ballard.

Here are some additional resources related to the article and Salisbury’s success:

Salisbury’s Community Performance Reports

Salisbury Mission, Vision & Core Values

Salisbury Budget & Performance Office

Videos on Collins’ “Hedgehog Concept”

Case Study on Customer Service Intervention

The Customer Service Intervention (book)

Good to Great and the Social Sectors (monograph)

ASPA Member Kenneth Hunter is an MPA Graduate of The University of Georgia with more than a decade of experience in local government finance. Kenneth is the Budget & Evaluation Manager for the City of Rocky Mount, North Carolina, and serves on the Executive Committee of the Association for Budgeting & Financial Managementand is a Board Member and Webmaster for the North Carolina Local Government Budget Association.


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