Technology continues to grow and with it comes the expectation of a quick response from business and government agencies. People want answers to their questions, and their problems solved immediately. In addition, they also want to be treated well.
Here are a few ideas for helping to keep your citizens happy when they reach out to you for help:
First, when do you receive the highest volume of support calls? Try to have a live person available to answer them. If citizens are constantly calling after normal business hours, have an employee start later in the day and work later to cover that need. Make adjustments as necessary.
Second, make sure there are enough people to answer the phone. If a citizen continually gets a recorded message, they could get more frustrated with the issue. This could carry over to the phone conversation once they finally get a hold of you.
Third, if possible, provide them with alternative ways of completing a task.
For example: If they need to fill out a form, make the form readily available. Provide it to your customer online or via e-mail rather than making them search for the form.
This sounds obvious, but here are some things you might not have thought about:
- Try to keep the phone background noise to a minimum. This might not always be possible, but it helps the citizen to have a better chance of understanding what you’re saying and not be as distracted.
- Smile while you’re talking on the phone – it comes across.
- Don’t talk too fast. This is especially helpful to people who are hard of hearing or possibly have a language barrier.
- Don’t demand. Say please. It will go a long way.
- Finally: Listen!
The citizen is the customer. Be patient with them and think of what it’s like when you call a customer support line for a large company – what are your expectations?
Have fair expectations. Citizens don’t think about local government all of the time. They might not know what your process is for applying for something and it might be unfair of you to expect that from them. This may be the first time that they’ve ever contacted you. Maybe they’re new to the area. Give them some benefit of the doubt.
What are some of your suggestions? Let us know in the comments below!