October 23, 2009
One of the hallmarks of government is bureaucracy and adherence to "systems," and "procedures," and "protocols," and "policies." While there is logic to this—procedures and rules ensure the orderly process of business—everyone who has interacted with a government office has at one time or another felt the frustration of being told that we cannot make exceptions or violate the established processes.
This all came home a couple of weeks ago as we were walking through the Customer Contact Center. An employee had just had a conversation with a real estate broker who had made errors on his application that resulted in a delay. Therefore, he was going to have to lay-off two sales associates who couldn't make sales as a result of his mistakes. He had corrected the errors, but, since we process applications in the order received, his application wouldn't get to the top of the stack for another week, which meant that it could be a couple more weeks until he received his license. If we weren't able to help, it was likely that he would loose his entire business.
At this point, our employee who had spoken to the broker had two choices—follow established process and indirectly put two, hardworking Floridians out of work, or elevate the issue and "save the day." She chose the latter by taking the issue to an administrator who got the license issued immediately. Afterward I thought about how we could teach our employees to make that extra effort that could "save the day" for an endangered business, even if doing so meant going outside of our established procedures.
This is a little like what Toyota did when they allowed any team member on the assembly line to stop production to fix problems. The same principle can be applied to state government; however, an organizational culture change is necessary. Every employee needs to view every transaction as an opportunity; every employee needs to be able to identify and respond to a customer in an extenuating circumstance. In order to make this culture shift, I've launched the "You Save the Day" initiative.
We are telling our employees throughout the state that they have the power to "save the day" for a customer. The foundation is simple: our customers are people, people who are sometimes in extreme circumstances, and employees have a responsibility to step in and elevate these issues.
The second part of the campaign hinges on highlighting the employees who make great "saves," and sharing their stories with colleagues throughout the state. By keeping a running dialogue regarding these situations and saves, it underscores the importance of great customer service at DBPR.
We've made a lot of strides here at DBPR, and changing the culture of an organization is no easy task. However, that’s where we need to go from here. Personally, I'm tired of being perceived as a big, bureaucratic agency. It’s time for us to stop the assembly line and save our customers.
Charles W. Drago
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