Northwest NEWS

October 22, 2001

Front Page

New connections for city

by Bronwyn Wilson
   Senior Staff Reporter
   The city of Woodinville has followed a good customer service policy since incorporation. That is, until recently. Now with the approval of the City Council, City Hall employees will follow a more enhanced policy for quality customer service and strive to serve citizens even better through a new program called Customer Connections.
   Back in 1993, City Hall began as six people working out of one department. Today they've grown to fifty employees. "In those short eight years we've spread out to six core departments," said Marie Stake, communications coordinator. The change has not only called for an organizational move, but also a geographical one. Last spring, City Hall employees relocated from cramped quarters in the old brick schoolhouse to a spacious, bright new building.
   With this growth at City Hall came the challenge to exceed customer service expectations. Employee focus groups were developed last summer to tackle customer service issues. The groups defined the city's customer service strengths and opportunities for improvement. Discussions focused on procedures to improve service, what customers needed and how to help visitors more efficiently.
   Soon after, an action plan was formed for a new customer service policy emphasizing personalized service, educational exchanges and professional interaction.
   In the past, city staff had adhered to a customer service program known as "Operation Red Carpet" which provided equal attention to all customers. The program's intent was to leave the customer with a positive impression even if city staff were unable to fulfill the customer's request.
   Since the doors first opened for business, the city has been tracking customer service requests and gathering feedback. Survey results showed overall satisfaction with the service provided but sometimes indicated dissatisfaction with response time.
   Within the next few months, several short-term priorities will be implemented, such as a volunteer concierge program that will train volunteers to greet and assist visitors to City Hall. Improvements to signs inside and outside the building are also in the works.
   For information or to volunteer, contact Marie Stake at (425) 877-2267.