When providing excellent service is your prime directive, and phenomenal growth is your challenge, how can you not only maintain but also improve service? Remember that better-trained employees provide better service.
It's a principle that rules in Maricopa County, Arizona, which is home to Phoenix, Scottsdale, and more than a dozen other cities. One of the nation's fastest-growing areas, Maricopa County serves almost 3 million residents, a population that increased by almost 35 percent in the 1990s.
"We try to give taxpayers the most for their money. Customer service has always been, and always will be, our most important job. That's what we do," says Mary Lee Madison, training consultant with Maricopa County Organizational Planning and Training.
Empowering employees with the tools and skills to deliver the best possible service to taxpayers is key to the county's approach to service. Working with AchieveGlobal, a world leader in training and consulting, Maricopa County offers AchieveGlobal's The Service Difference system to all 15,900 county employees.
The Service Difference features seven modules designed not only to gain commitment from employees to achieve better results in customer relations, but also to provide the skills and strategies that enable them to follow through on that commitment. They are:
Connecting with Customers. When and how to establish all-important human connections with customers
Guiding Customer Conversations. A universal approach to managing customer interactions with confidence
Healing the Customer Relationship. Four guidelines for restoring a customer's trust and confidence
Meeting Unspoken Customer Needs. The conceptual background and the skills required to meet unspoken needs creatively and cost-effectively
Reaching for Stellar Service. The challenges of delivering stellar service, and how it adds value to every type of customer interaction
Resolving Issues That Impact the Customer. Resolving disagreements that can affect customers so that working relationships can be more productive and customer-focused
Serving a World of Customers. How to provide sensitive service to customers, whether their differences happen to be in physical ability, language ability, culturally dictated expectations, or familiarity with technology.
AchieveGlobal training is designed to be flexible, and Maricopa County utilizes that aspect. While Maricopa County Organizational Planning and Training offers general courses, each of the county's 45 departments is responsible for tailoring the training to its specific needs.
"Every time we offer The Service Difference modules, employees are very interested and they fill up quickly," Madison says. "We have had a great deal of positive feedback."
A survey is planned to gauge training impact and how lessons learned have been applied to on-the-job situations. But there has already been ample anecdotal evidence that it works.
"One of our department directors went through the training," Madison says. "She was so impressed that she plans on putting all of her staff into the classes."
For more information on AchieveGlobal's The Service Difference system, visit www.theservicedifference.com.