How To Get What You Need from a Public Agency
In a recent survey, McKinsey found that government agencies ranked among the last in customer satisfaction among 11 researched industries. When dealing with government, whether it’s the City, State or Federal agencies, we have all experienced customer service situations where civil servants are not just difficult, they are downright uncivil.
Consider however, what they are up against: the competing demands of keeping up with all of the Federal/State/City requirements and regulations and trying to maintain composure with customers who are late, belligerent, poorly informed, and/or difficult to explain things to. Public sector employees are constantly challenged.
What’s more, in working with thousands of public sector employees for over 20 years, we can assure you that they can also have a great deal of trepidation in working with you.
First, they have to deal with assumptions – stereotypes – that much of the public has about them as civil servants - that they are lazy and uninformed. Second, they don't know whether you are going to be friendly or angry, calm or agitated, complimentary or insulting. Third, they don't know whether you understand that they really do want to be a problem-solver and help you gain the benefits of the multitudes of programs offered by the government – which are often very complex – that will benefit and protect you, your family and your business.
Unfortunately, the process to gaining some benefits can be long and the paperwork challenging – but the vast majority of our civil servants want to help you (consider how many civil servants are working now without pay during this government shutdown).
So, what can you do to Get What You Need from a Public Agency? Here are four tips to consider:
Be friendly. Most people are much more receptive to helping someone when they a smile and give a cordial greeting;
Be prepared. Ensure that you have all the documentation needed to discuss your problem. Check online with the government agency you want to help you for answers and documents you may need;
Be understanding. Consider the numerous customers they work with, and the complexity involved in solving a problem. And, recognize that it take some time, and there could be myriad amount of paperwork to complete;
Be thankful. Express thanks for the help you received. Everyone loves a compliment.