Monday, October 22, 2012

Transition is An Opportunity – Be Ready

No matter who wins the election in two weeks, change will come.  If the President is re-elected, we’ll see some new political appointees coming onboard and certainly new initiatives.  If Governor Romney is elected, we’ll see wholesale changes in political personnel and plans; and transition teams will move into agencies quickly.  In either case, new political appointees and new goals will ramp up throughout 2013.
Transition brings change, and change can be a great opportunity – if you’re prepared.

Here we go – three tips for making the most out of transition:

1.        Finish what you’ve started
Government communicators have made great strides in the past 4 years.  The Digital Government Strategy and Customer Service plans go a long way to recognizing the importance of a customer-centered government.  Of course, that work will be unending.  But now is the time to dot the I’s and cross the t’s on those distinct initiatives that are underway.  Get your digital governance models finished.  Roll out those signature mobile apps.   If they aren’t perfect, you can improve them incrementally over time.  What you don’t want is to be caught by the winds of change and lose the good work you’ve started.

2.       Document what you’ve finished
Write it down.  Make it real.  Document your successes, explaining why they were successful.  Talk in terms that new executives and special assistants will understand and value…how did this project improve the way your agency serves citizens or performs more efficiently?  Don’t get down in the weeds, but give enough detail so that the problem(s) and solution(s) are clear and the benefits convincing.  You never know when new appointees or transition teams will ask for your achievements.  Be ready to hand them a 2-pager that informs and convinces.

3.       Document what you want and need
One of the smartest things the Federal Web Managers Council ever did was write a White Paper on improving online services and having it ready for the Obama transition team in November 2008.  That paper was widely circulated and served as the genesis for both top level attention and many of the exciting initiatives that followed.  This is a great time to assess where you’ve been in the past 4 years and where you want to go.  Think long term.  Think big picture (again, in terms that will grab the attention of top political executives and special assistants).  Talk about obstacles and options to overcome them, and say exactly what you need from top executives to make change happen and what the outcomes should be. 

In two weeks, no matter who wins, the federal government will begin to change.  It may be subtle or it may be dramatic.  Either way, be prepared.  Think this through.  Transition is a great opportunity.
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Monday, October 01, 2012

It's Customer Service Week...What Have You Done for Your Customers Lately?

This is National Customer Service Week, and I hope you (yes, you!) take a few minutes to think about what you’ve done to help your customers lately.  Did you do a great job answering that email? Super!  Did you suggest an improvement to the website that made it easier for customers to find a top task?  Great!  Did you go out of your way to direct that phone caller to someone who could give her a real answer?  Spot on! 

What’s that you say?  You really haven’t done anything for your customers lately?  Well, then..start now.  Here are 3 things you can do, this week, to celebrate our dedication to giving our customers the best possible service.

Read and think. 

A lot of us have been thinking hard about customer service.  Do some reading, see where you agree and disagree, and think about how you could apply some of these ideas.  Here are 5 of my blog pieces that might spark some thoughts:
More places to look:

Gather your team or some of your colleagues and talk about what makes great customer service.  Then brainstorm ways you could improve service at your agency.  Or join an online discussion on GovLoop (Wendi has one there, too).    

Be a customer. 

Go to a government website (not your own!) and try to complete a task.  See how they’re doing it, and look for ideas you could replicate.  If you have a bad experience, why?  Are you doing similar things at your agency?  Maybe you should fix them.  There’s nothing like being a customer to understand what customers want.    

You don’t have to be a manager to create change.  Every single person at every single agency has opportunities – and responsibilities – to improve the way we serve our customers. 

So, what about it?  What have you done for your customers lately?