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Opinion: Customer service in Cape Girardeau's city government

Tuesday, January 10, 2012

How important is customer service? How do you measure customer service? Who should measure customer service of an entity? What other entities do you compare the gathered data of customer service? How do you use survey data to improve your customer service?

I have noticed with interest recently both written and spoken comments concerning the validity of our city spending $20,000 for an outside company to survey our governmental customer service. I have been deeply involved in customer service my entire life. I know for a fact that it is a challenge to measure, hard to improve and difficult to train. But good customer service is oh so easy to ignore and lose.

A key question is "why is customer service an important part of city government?" After all, city government is practically guaranteed their revenue through taxes and user fees. I feel this is a shortsighted approach to operating our city government.

Another question is "what is involved in good customer service in city government?" I believe that it is all encompassing to include all of our staff. It includes courteous and efficient bill paying procedures, timely answers and response to resident complaints and suggestions, timely mowing of rights of way, speedy repairs to street potholes, courteous staff in our parks and buildings, etc.

Our staff, council and I feel strongly that good customer service and a dedicated effort to continue to improve services to our citizens, our customers, is vital to a vibrant and growing city. We believe that one of the keys is to develop a baseline of our current service situation and obtain some comparatives with similar cities in our region. This was the basis for the search for an outside company to gather this information.

We will be eagerly waiting for the results and data from the survey and will carefully analyze the accumulated data to determine our strengths and weaknesses. Our staff will then react by crafting plans and strategies to improve and enhance our municipal customer service in all areas.

A cost/benefit and efficiency factors will be a part of any decisions in this area. We feel that we can take advantage of new and evolving technologies to improve efficiencies, save time and potentially save the city and our taxpayers money.

I would ask that all citizens take the time to respond to survey questions should you be contacted and also respond as honestly and frankly as possible to give us a true picture of our current state in customer service areas.

We will, of course, keep everyone informed of progress and any updated changes made as a result of the findings in the survey.

Happy new year to all as we begin a new and exciting year for our city of Cape Girardeau.

Harry E. Rediger is the mayor of Cape Girardeau.

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Harry Rediger
Mayor's Corner: Harry Rediger
Cape Girardeau Mayor Harry Rediger is one of three local mayors writing weekly columns for the Southeast Missourian.