The Government Experience

I was recently appointed to a committee in the city I live in. A friend who works for the city thought I might be interested and asked if I wanted to be on it and I decided to accept his offer. To get appointed to the committee, though, is an official process. Because it is a process that involves an individual interacting with another organization, that means it involves customer service.

First of all, I filled out a couple of forms that my friend gave to me and mailed them in. After a couple of days, I received a letter in the mail announcing that I had officially been appointed by the city’s mayor and that I would be hearing from the city soon. Sure enough, a few days later, I received an email from the commission’s secretary (the City Commission is in charge of the committee) announcing the next meeting time and date. She explained where I needed to go and who I needed to see.

On the day of the meeting, I went to City Hall and up to the appropriate floor. The secretary I had exchanged a few emails with greeted me and introduced me to a few people that were already there. I was offered a bottle of water and we talked about random things to help break the ice. Everyone was very friendly and introduced themselves.

The first meeting went smoothly and a few days after it, I was sent an email asking if I had gone to get sworn in. I forgot to do that, so I called the city attorney’s office to schedule the oath and the legal orientation. The phone system was unclear and didn’t list the name of the person I had to contact, so I dialed 0 and asked the operator for the appropriate person. I was connected and was able to schedule an appointment (with some difficulty) with the appropriate person in the city attorney’s office.

I went back to City Hall on the appropriate date for my legal orientation. I met a different secretary and was introduced to the appropriate city attorney. He went over the handbook, answered my questions, and explained that he was available if I had any questions. The 20 minute session was very helpful in explaining fairly complicated procedures and somewhat ambiguous laws. After that, he handed me a memo and told me to go down to the clerk’s office to get sworn in. I went down to the first floor, found the clerk’s office, and was sworn in. I was officially a part of the committee.

From this, we can learn that there a few things that are helpful to do:

  • Keep communication consistent and frequent enough.
  • Make it clear about what each person has to do at each step.
  • Be friendly: engage with new people, introduce yourself, offer to help, etc.
  • It’s okay to physically hand people something like a memo and send them to another person, as long as it explains what everyone has to do.

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One Response to “The Government Experience”

  1. Service Untitled » Service Untitled is part of Alltop - customer service and customer service experience blog said:

    May 21, 08 at 9:13 pm

    […] had actually written a post earlier in the afternoon when I didn’t have Internet access (the government customer service one), but forgot to publish it when I got back to a place with Internet […]