Monday, April 30, 2012

Customer Service Act Is Good News for Citizens and Employees

Good news!  The Federal Customer Service Enhancement Act, H.R. 538 has passed out of a House committee and is moving forward.  What?  You’ve never heard of the Federal Customer Service Enhancement Act?  Oh, my.  Well, let me tell you about it because this law would be great news for public servants and citizens alike. 

The Act would add support and permanence to President Obama's Executive Order on customer service.  What I like most is that it calls for agencies to credit and reward employees for great customer service.  Bingo!  The Act legitimizes “customer service” as an organizational value; and it recognizes that great customer service depends on government employees who know their customers, care about what they want and need, and go the extra mile to make sure they get it. 

So let me back up and summarize the Customer Service Act for you.  It requires:  
  • The Office of Management and Budget (OMB) to establish performance measures and standards to make sure government is providing high-quality customer service;
  • Agency heads to measure customer satisfaction through "surveys, focus groups, or other appropriate methods” (like usability testing, I hope!);  
  • Agencies to report customer service data annually and OMB to issue a report;
  • Agency heads to designate a Customer Relations Representative; and
  • Agencies to publish customer service contact information.  Great customer service includes providing help to customers who get stuck, don’t understand, or just need extra support.
And here's what shows that the drafters of this legislation “get it” about what it takes to create a culture of customer service.   It says:
  • Agency heads may pay cash awards to employees who demonstrate excellence in customer service; and 
  • “Compliance with customer service standards developed under this Act shall, to the extent practicable, be an element of a performance appraisal system.” 
Yay!  Employees who already go above and beyond the call of duty to serve their customers will get credit for it in their annual performance appraisals.  And employees who need to do a bit more…well, they’ll know it because their bosses will document those expectations in their performance standards.  Agencies can celebrate their successes in customer service by shining the light on employees who really do it right.  It’s a win for government employees, and it’s a win for customers who depend on those employees to provide great service. 

This Act has a long way to go.  But it’s off to a good start.  It sends an important message:  citizens want and deserve great customer service from their government, and government needs to value those employees who deliver.

Related Posts
I've Said It Before and I'll Say It Again...5 Principles ofCustomer Service
Creating a Culture of Customer Service - “And Would You LikeCatsup for Your Fries?”

5 comments: said...

This is a nice post. You have mentioned what exactly the customer service act very well.Citizens want and deserve great customer service from their government, and government needs to value those employees who deliver.

Best WIshes,

Ruby said...

Thank you for this information. I hope that the Obama administration passes this Act into law because it will serve a great purpose in giving and receiving good service. Those employees who give good service deserve to be rewarded for their good work.

Ruby Chelmsford

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