1. Define a culture of Customer Service
The Revenue Bureau has worked for the last two years to embed customer service goals and values within the culture of the workforce. Customer Service is recognized in our key guiding documents:
- The Bureau updated its Mission/Vision/Values in 2007 to include a strong emphasis on customer service.
The Revenue Bureau vision statement is:
To provide the highest quality customer service while efficiently collecting revenues and providing regulatory oversight.
That same statement goes on to say that three of our core values are:
Customer Focus: We value our customers and will continue to provide them with service that is balanced and solves problems in a fair, timely, efficient, cooperative and courteous way, whether we are collecting revenues, enforcing regulations, or providing information.
Professionalism: We value integrity and honesty, being well-trained, competent, helpful, knowledgeable, respectful, hard working and conscientious.
Accountability: We value sound business practices in the administration of our duties and transparency in policies and procedures.
- A core service of the FY 07-08 and 08-09 budget/ bureau work plan is "Customer Service Improvements."
- A Strategic Goal of the updated 2008-2010 Revenue Bureau Strategic Plan is Customer Service. The objective is "maintaining a focus on the customer and how they can be better served." Specific action steps are included in the document.
- Emphasis on customer service in the 2008 Revenue Bureau Succession Plan.
In addition to these specific documents, the Bureau has also implemented various "best practice" ideas to provide quality customer service and reinforce the service concept throughout the workplace:
- "Up phones" or phones in major work areas assigned to staff for the day with the intent of always having someone available;
- In/Out Board - To allow the front counter staff to better know who can be called to assist customers;
- Vectoring of phone system to allow customers to more quickly receive information and help specific to their question or need;
- "Shuffling" of territories for Business License staff to ensure a more even work load which then allows for better service;
- Recognition of quality customer service. In 2008 the Bureau Director instituted the "ROSE" Award for Recognizing Outstanding Service and Excellence. The monthly recipient is chosen by the Director although nominations can come from customers or other staff.
- Discussion or reference to customer service during staff meetings to reinforce its importance.
- On-line tax filing for Business Licenses and Multnomah County Business Income Tax (BL/McBIT). (Payment by credit card expected 1/1/09.)
Specific staff has been assigned the responsibilities of outreach or marketing to customer or industry groups most impacted by Bureau work. A Bureau Marketing Plan has been drafted and is now undergoing review.
2. Enhance the customer service skills of employees
The Revenue Bureau has focused on the three primary areas where we can improve the customer service skills of our employees:
a. Recruitment and Hiring
During the recruitment and hiring process, the Bureau has integrated customer service as a key element of the job announcement, job advertisements, interview questions and applicant evaluation.
b. Employee Evaluations
Customer Service is an evaluation element of annual performance evaluations for COPPEA and non-represented employees. For the last year, the Revenue Bureau Labor Management Committee has been working on the issue of Performance Evaluations for DCTU employees. Those evaluations will begin in September 2008.
c. Customer Service Training
This is an area that the Revenue Bureau has mad major strides in the last two years:
i. In the fall of 2007, a Revenue and Tax Specialist V position was assigned the specific duties of "Training and Development Coordinator." This position is responsible for ensuring the ongoing emphasis on customer service training and the Call Monitoring and Coaching Program (see ii. below). The leadership of the Bureau had targeted this as a need in 2006, but was unable to allocate the resources until late 2007.
ii. In January 2008, the Bureau implemented a Call Monitoring and Coaching Program. Since so much of our work is completed on the telephone, it is important to tackle the issue of how to ensure consistent, always improving customer service as it relates to phone contacts. The program calls for ongoing monitoring of employee calls with consistent evaluations.
iii. In FY 07-08 and 08-09, the Bureau has had ongoing training specific to customer service. Along with the phone service training, a combination of in-house trainers and training consultants have been used to provide standardized customer service training to all Bureau employees. Examples include:
1. A 3 ½ hour workshop conducted by Dr. Janet Bennett that focused customer service with the intercultural customer - understanding differences in expectations, communication styles, and conflict styles.
2, Elders in Action training on issues of serving the elderly.
3, In-house training annually to cover the latest modifications to the ever changing tax code and forms and to review modifications that has been made to improve the computer system and related processes.
4, Videos on listening skills.
Planned training includes a ½ day seminar on issues related to people in poverty and how best to serve their needs; how better to utilize the phone system; and role playing on how to deal with angry customers.
In FY 08-09, the bureau requested funding for additional customer service training. $20,000 was funded through the budget process.
3. Solicit feedback from your customers
Because of the various types of service provided, the Revenue Bureau solicits feedback currently in three ways:
i. Zoomerang Survey to those customers filing on-line;
ii. Hand-out "postcard" surveys to those customers walking in the door; and
iii. Survey of internal city customers through the larger OMF survey.
A mail survey prompted by phone calls is expected to be implemented in FY 08-09.