Monday, November 14, 2011

Oshawa's Customer Service Strategy

We as consumers are tuned to demand good customer service from product vendors we deal with. Yet never seem to expect the same from our government and municipal bodies. We resign with an attitude that ‘this can never change’. This sentiment holds true across the world. We always seem to expect a lower standard from our government bodies. When we go to pay our utilities bill or enquire or complain, the response is far from satisfactory. Generally, having several contact points or multiple locations offering government service may cause a barrier to efficient service delivery for citizens.  As a result, service delivery strategies that worked in the past need to evolve to reflect changes in attitudes and expectations of customers. So why aren’t we demanding better service? And more importantly are our elected bodies looking for solutions?

The city of Oshawa in Canada is an exemplary example of a city that made customer service a priority. The city hired RBosch Consulting to execute this impressive plan. A study was initiated through interviews with the Mayor, city councilors and a Working Committee instituted for this purpose. Using data from these interviews, RBosch designed a set of guiding principles which define Oshawa’s customer service. They identified opportunities for service improvements and finally delivered a roadmap for them. Goals were drawn up which would be assessed time to time and a plan for a Contact Center implementation was also put into place to enable a centralized service delivery mechanism.

Many elements came together for the city of Oshawa to get it right. The critical success factors for this ambitious project were:
  • Senior Management and Political Support
  • Adequate Resources
  • Staff Buy in and Communication
  • Clear Vision
  • Enabling Technology
The above points are important for any customer service strategy implementation irrespective of the scale and scope of the project. This initiative by the city of Oshawa isn’t unique because it is a city municipal body realizing the importance of good customer service, it is because when expectations are low on that parameter, they still went ahead and executed a strategy that can only improve customer satisfaction and goodwill in the long run. That is true vision, something many service and product vendors need to learn.

So why is customer service not as important a priority for companies jostling for market share and mind share today?

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