National Customer Service Week is next week (the first week of October). For me this is a national holiday. Not a holiday where you stay home with family or take a day – or a week – off of work. On the contrary, this is a holiday that requires much work to be done.
Every year I say the same thing: National Customer Service Week shouldn’t be a week. It should be a year. For anyone who works, taking care of customers should always be front of mind. After all, without customers you really can’t have a business.
So, who created National Customer Service Week? Is this a United States Government sanctioned holiday? Hardly! Someone in business realized that customer service was worth highlighting and created the holiday, if you want to call it that. Think of it like Hallmark creating a holiday to sell more cards. Someone created this week to get businesses to be a little more aware about how people treat their customers.
That said there may now be a stronger tie between customer service and the United States Government.
About four months ago I posted a comment to an article about TSA and Government services: “The government is the largest employer in the US. Shouldn’t they be held to a standard of customer service that other companies and organizations deliver? This won’t be easy, given their track record and habits. Want a role model? Take a look at the Singapore government. They get it. Their customers (citizens) rate them very high.”
So, here is what excites me enough to write this article. The United States Government wants to improve its customer service. Really!
According to Richard Simon, who reports in the “Los Angeles Times,” the House of Representatives approved a Government Customer Service Improvement Act on September 9, 2012. Henry Cuellar (D-Texas), who sponsored the bill, stated, “When taxpayers interact with a government agency, they deserve the same timely, reliable assistance they would expect from a private sector business.’’ Apparently just 31% of people surveyed last year were very satisfied with federal customer service, he noted.
The bill that was passed will require the U.S. Office of Management and Budget to establish customer service performance standards for federal agencies. A similar bill, supported by lawmakers from both parties, is awaiting a Senate vote.
So, this may make some of you laugh.
And some of you will cynically say this is ridiculous. Personally, I’m smiling. In my usual optimistic way, I’m hoping they are serious about raising the bar on how the citizens are treated.
So, what’s the Government’s next step? Once the bill is passed, they will need a plan. They will need help. They will need to bring in experts to help them create a program and develop a team that will go out and help change the behavior of the employees who currently aren’t customer focused. This is a lofty job. I standby, ready to serve. I’m just waiting for the call. I’ll let you know when I get it.
Shep Hyken is a customer service expert, professional speaker and New York Times bestselling business author. For information contact (314) 692-2200 or http://www.hyken.com. For information on The Customer Focus™ customer service training programs go to http://www.thecustomerfocus.com/. Follow on Twitter: @Hyken
(Copyright ©MMXII, Shep Hyken)