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Customer Service for Fire Departments The how and why of being nice… Massachusetts Fire Service Project Customer Service: East meets West Revision: Summer.

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Presentation on theme: "Customer Service for Fire Departments The how and why of being nice… Massachusetts Fire Service Project Customer Service: East meets West Revision: Summer."— Presentation transcript:

1 Customer Service for Fire Departments The how and why of being nice… Massachusetts Fire Service Project Customer Service: East meets West Revision: Summer 2008 Captain Jim Vuona – Shrewsbury Fire Contributors: Lt. Jeremy Souza – Swansea Fire Lt. Stephen Walsh – Quincy Fire Capt. Phil Field (EFO)– C-O-M-M Fire

2 Customer Service - Spring 062 Goals Provide the highest level of customer service to the community Provide the highest level of customer service to the community Enhance the image of your department and the fire service Enhance the image of your department and the fire service

3 Customer Service - Spring 063 Objectives Understand the concept of customer service Understand the concept of customer service Define who our customers are Define who our customers are Avoid the common pitfalls Avoid the common pitfalls Examine the potential benefits Examine the potential benefits

4 Customer Service - Spring 064 Objectives Explain the ways customer service can affect us Explain the ways customer service can affect us Improve communication skills Improve communication skills Provide a higher level of customer service Provide a higher level of customer service

5 Customer Service - Spring 065 Customer Service - Defined What is customer service? “An organization’s abilities to supply their customers wants and needs” Does this go far enough? … or should we exceed customers expectations?... And provide “excellent customer service”

6 Customer Service - Spring 066 Customer Wants and Needs What do our customers want? Make a list… Someone to Help Them Timely Response Sympathy Courtesy Understanding A Solution to their Problem!

7 Customer Service - Spring 067 The Customer Service Model Phoenix Fire Department Provide best possible service to Customers Provide best possible service to Customers Always be Nice Always be Nice Execute standard problem solving outcome Execute standard problem solving outcome Regard everyone as a Customer Regard everyone as a Customer Consider how/what you are doings looks Consider how/what you are doings looks Don’t disqualify Customer w/ your Qualifications Don’t disqualify Customer w/ your Qualifications Customer – centered Organizational Behavior Customer – centered Organizational Behavior Continually improve Customer Service Continually improve Customer Service

8 It’s all about perception! Remember, to the Individual Perception is Reality

9 Customer Service - Spring 069 Public Perception The attitudes that we have The attitudes that we have Treat everyone with respect Treat everyone with respect Those on the front lines Those on the front lines represent everyone represent everyone

10 Customer Service - Spring 0610 The Golden Rule The Customer is Always Right… (even when they’re wrong!) (even when they’re wrong!) It’s more important to be Polite, than Right!

11 Customer Service - Spring 0611 It starts at the top! Fire Chiefs and Company Officers must: Fire Chiefs and Company Officers must: 1. Provide leadership 2. Set a good example 2. Set a good example 3. Communicate the mission 3. Communicate the mission 4. Support the troops 4. Support the troops 5. Recognize outstanding effort 5. Recognize outstanding effort

12 Customer Service - Spring 0612 CitizenKARE Means Putting Citizens First! Means Putting Citizens First! Knowledge Knowledge Attitude Attitude Respect Respect Excellence Excellence

13 Customer Service - Spring 0613 CPR…keeping customer service alive!

14 Customer Service - Spring 0614 Who are our customers? Anyone that interacts with the fire service, on any level, is a customer

15 Customer Service - Spring 0615 Who are our customers? Customers are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna to get… Customers are like a box of chocolates, you never know what you’re gonna to get… and you never know who they know….

16 Customer Service - Spring 0616 Turn ‘Lemons into Lemonade’ “Unhappy customers are always “Unhappy customers are always a concern. They’re also your a concern. They’re also your greatest opportunity” greatest opportunity” Bill Gates CEO Microsoft

17 Customer Service - Spring 0617 Angry Customers The Assassin – tells others about your flaws The Assassin – tells others about your flaws Strategy: Strategy: provide apologies provide apologies ask for specifics ask for specifics seek win/win options seek win/win options avoid absolutes avoid absolutes never underestimate their never underestimate their connections connections Follow up Follow up

18 Customer Service - Spring 0618 Angry Customers The Butcher – demands go to the extreme or the impossible The Butcher – demands go to the extreme or the impossible Strategy: indicate you want to help indicate you want to help explore alternatives explore alternatives develop a matching offer develop a matching offer know your limit know your limit

19 Customer Service - Spring 0619 Angry Customers T he Pincher – nitpicks the small stuff, ignores the big stuff T he Pincher – nitpicks the small stuff, ignores the big stuffStrategy: don’t sweat the minor details don’t sweat the minor details redirect redirect focus on the big picture focus on the big picture be sure to document be sure to document

20 Customer Service - Spring 0620 Angry Customers T he Grenade – angry about one thing, rants about everything T he Grenade – angry about one thing, rants about everythingStrategy: allow them to vent allow them to vent find mutual agreement find mutual agreement clarify problem/solution clarify problem/solution act promptly act promptly

21 Customer Service - Spring 0621 Angry Customers The Vampire – wants to make you angry more than fix the problem The Vampire – wants to make you angry more than fix the problemStrategy: tell them what you can do tell them what you can do be empathetic be empathetic don’t take it personal don’t take it personal don’t respond in kind… don’t respond in kind… that’s just what they want to Suck the Life out of You! that’s just what they want to Suck the Life out of You!

22 Customer Service - Spring 0622 The Bottom Line Listen to your customers Listen to your customers Don’t argue with them Don’t argue with them Accommodate them promptly (if possible) Accommodate them promptly (if possible) Nod and smile! (when appropriate) Nod and smile! (when appropriate)

23 “What you do to or for your customers is the difference between success and failure” Thomas Faranda

24 Customer Service - Spring 0624 Pitfalls What could possibly go wrong?

25 Customer Service - Spring 0625 What could possibly go wrong? Broken promises/failure to provide the service Broken promises/failure to provide the service Unpleasant surprises Unpleasant surprises Unrealistic customer expectations Unrealistic customer expectations Delayed responses Delayed responses Ignoring/minimizing the customer’s problem or concerns Ignoring/minimizing the customer’s problem or concerns Bad manners Bad manners

26 Customer Service - Spring 0626 Broken Promises You said you were going to save grandma! You said you were going to save grandma! I scheduled an inspection for this morning and you didn’t show up! I scheduled an inspection for this morning and you didn’t show up!

27 Customer Service - Spring 0627 Unpleasant Surprises Forcing entry on false alarms. Forcing entry on false alarms. Tracking dirt into a home. Tracking dirt into a home. Don’t create more damage than the Emergency!!! Don’t create more damage than the Emergency!!! Hippocrates said “first, do no harm” Hippocrates said “first, do no harm”

28 Customer Service - Spring 0628 PFD - Mission Statement: Prevent Harm – Survive – Be Nice

29 Customer Service - Spring 0629 Unrealistic Expectations Why can’t you save grandma? Why can’t you save grandma? Get inside my burning house and save fluffy! Get inside my burning house and save fluffy! Take time to educate the public Take time to educate the public Movies and television aren’t reality Movies and television aren’t reality

30 Customer Service - Spring 0630 Delayed Response I called you 20 minutes ago! I called you 20 minutes ago! Perception of time slows down for people having emergencies Perception of time slows down for people having emergencies

31 Customer Service - Spring 0631 Minimizing the Customer This call is nothing, you should have seen what we had last shift This call is nothing, you should have seen what we had last shift It’s the third time we’ve been here this week – our response gets complacent It’s the third time we’ve been here this week – our response gets complacent Don’t disqualify the customer with your qualifications Don’t disqualify the customer with your qualifications

32 Customer Service - Spring 0632 Bad Manners “Firehouse language” has no place outside of the firehouse “Firehouse language” has no place outside of the firehouse Making comments in poor taste can easily turn a good customer away Making comments in poor taste can easily turn a good customer away If you wouldn’t say it in front of your mother, don’t say to the general public If you wouldn’t say it in front of your mother, don’t say to the general public

33 Customer Service - Spring 0633 What’s it mean for me ? How does poor customer service affect us? Make a list… Political Issues Department Actions Department Actions Legal Issues Makes the Call more Difficult

34 Customer Service - Spring 0634 Political Issues Angry customers tell people about their experience with you Angry customers tell people about their experience with you Satisfied customers don’t tell anyone Satisfied customers don’t tell anyone Happy customers tell people about their experience, but less than angry customers Happy customers tell people about their experience, but less than angry customers

35 Customer Service - Spring 0635 Statistically The average customer tells 11 people about their unpleasant experience… The average customer tells 11 people about their unpleasant experience… Those 11 each tell 5 more…and so on… Those 11 each tell 5 more…and so on… That’s 56 people negatively affected by one bad customer service experience That’s 56 people negatively affected by one bad customer service experience

36 Customer Service - Spring 0636 Department Actions Customers may complain to department/city administrators about your actions Customers may complain to department/city administrators about your actions Poor customer service may result in disciplinary actions towards the personnel involved Poor customer service may result in disciplinary actions towards the personnel involved Good or bad service can create good or bad press – the press never forgets Good or bad service can create good or bad press – the press never forgets

37 Customer Service - Spring 0637 Legal Issues Good customer service can sometimes make up for undesirable outcomes Good customer service can sometimes make up for undesirable outcomes Bad customer service can lead to legal consequences Bad customer service can lead to legal consequences

38 Customer Service - Spring 0638 What’s in it for us? How can Excellent Customer Service affect us? How can Excellent Customer Service affect us? –Professionalism –Turns negatives into positives! –Recognition (political/media) –Positive public image –Community support –Keeps the Chief off my ***!!!!

39 Customer Service - Spring 0639 Build Community Equity! What’s it all mean???? What’s it all mean???? –Winning hearts and minds (and votes!) –Connecting with community partners –Marketing the mission (life safety programs) –Building respect for your department

40 Customer Service - Spring 0640 Connecting with your Community Get Involved! Get Involved!

41 Customer Service - Spring 0641 Public Education & Life Safety Programs NFPA – Risk Watch NFPA – Risk Watch NFPA - Learn Not to Burn Curriculum NFPA - Learn Not to Burn Curriculum Massachusetts – S.A.F.E. Program Massachusetts – S.A.F.E. Program

42 Customer Service - Spring 0642

43 Customer Service - Spring 0643 Station Visitors First impressions First impressions Professional and courteous Professional and courteous Any interactions with the public should be viewed as an educational opportunity! Any interactions with the public should be viewed as an educational opportunity!

44 Customer Service - Spring 0644 USFA – PIER Program Public Information Public Information Public Education Public Education Public Relations Public Relations USFA - Strategies for Marketing your Fire Dept. USFA - Strategies for Marketing your Fire Dept. Today and Beyond Today and Beyond

45 Customer Service - Spring 0645 Communication Skills Each of us holds the key to good customer service: Quality appearance Quality appearance Controlling emotions (ours and theirs) Controlling emotions (ours and theirs) Controlling attempts at humor Controlling attempts at humor Appropriate language in the presence of others Appropriate language in the presence of others

46 Customer Service - Spring 0646

47 Customer Service - Spring 0647 Controlling our Emotions Maintain a level attitude Maintain a level attitude Their worst day, is our everyday Their worst day, is our everyday Don’t escalate the situation Don’t escalate the situation Stay away from ‘road rage’ Stay away from ‘road rage’ Be nice! Be nice!

48 Customer Service - Spring 0648 Arrival – EMS incidents Greet the customer in a friendly manner Greet the customer in a friendly manner Perform your assessment in a friendly, professional way Perform your assessment in a friendly, professional way Use your listening skills Use your listening skills Many customers are repeat business, they are comparing you to other responders’ actions Many customers are repeat business, they are comparing you to other responders’ actions

49 Customer Service - Spring 0649 Controlling their Emotions Don’t interrupt the customer Don’t interrupt the customer Acknowledge their problems Acknowledge their problems Confirm the details Confirm the details Outline steps to solve their problems Outline steps to solve their problems Provide updates, both good and bad Provide updates, both good and bad Get their input to solve the problem Get their input to solve the problem

50 Customer Service - Spring 0650 Humor Attempts at humor can ruin good service Attempts at humor can ruin good service If you have to ask, then don’t use it If you have to ask, then don’t use it If you aren’t good with humor, don’t try to use it If you aren’t good with humor, don’t try to use it

51 Customer Service - Spring 0651 Language Our words often say more than we mean Our words often say more than we mean Don’t talk down to the customer Don’t talk down to the customer Use friendly tones - it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it Use friendly tones - it’s not just what you say, it’s how you say it Be careful what you say Be careful what you say

52 Customer Service - Spring 0652 Listening Maintain eye contact Maintain eye contact Give customer exclusive attention Give customer exclusive attention Appropriate distance Appropriate distance Be friendly Be friendly Stay open and positive Stay open and positive Nod and affirm what they say Nod and affirm what they say

53 Customer Service - Spring 0653 Appearance How you look often says more than what you say or do How you look often says more than what you say or do Take pride in your appearance Take pride in your appearance First impressions are permanent – if you don’t look professional, you may be perceived not to be First impressions are permanent – if you don’t look professional, you may be perceived not to be

54 Customer Service - Spring 0654 Appearance

55 Customer Service - Spring 0655 Organization Behavior Fire departments must be consistently focused and centered on serving Fire departments must be consistently focused and centered on serving the customer

56 Bringing it to the Field Fire and EMS runs with the customer in mind

57 Customer Service - Spring 0657 Taking the Call Dispatchers must be courteous Dispatchers must be courteous The only voice the public associates with the fire department The only voice the public associates with the fire department If the dispatcher made the caller angry, you get to deal with the aftermath If the dispatcher made the caller angry, you get to deal with the aftermath

58 Customer Service - Spring 0658 Answering the Phone Fire Headquarters Fire Headquarters Name / Rank Name / Rank How can I help you? How can I help you?

59 Customer Service - Spring 0659 Dispatching Customers can hear you dispatch Customers can hear you dispatch Many customers have scanners, they hear everything you say Many customers have scanners, they hear everything you say Stay professional on the radio Stay professional on the radio

60 Customer Service - Spring 0660 Responding Drive courteously! Drive courteously! The public knows who to complain to about your driving The public knows who to complain to about your driving Road rage and 20-ton vehicles – don’t mix. Road rage and 20-ton vehicles – don’t mix. Set a good example – Wear Seatbelts! Set a good example – Wear Seatbelts!

61 Customer Service - Spring 0661 Treatment – EMS incidents Introduce yourself Introduce yourself Explain what you are planning to do Explain what you are planning to do Don’t condescend Don’t condescend Don’t argue with your partner Don’t argue with your partner Clean up after yourself, particularly after nasty calls Clean up after yourself, particularly after nasty calls

62 Customer Service - Spring 0662 Transport – EMS incidents Make the patient comfortable Make the patient comfortable Humor usually isn’t appropriate Humor usually isn’t appropriate At the hospital, hand off your patient in a respectful manner At the hospital, hand off your patient in a respectful manner Keep from disparaging remarks Keep from disparaging remarks Visit the patient just before you return to quarters – leave on a good note Visit the patient just before you return to quarters – leave on a good note

63 Customer Service - Spring 0663 Arrival – Fire Incidents Park for safety, but do not block traffic unnecessarily Park for safety, but do not block traffic unnecessarily If possible, leave a driver with the apparatus to move if blocking parking spaces If possible, leave a driver with the apparatus to move if blocking parking spaces Be respectful of property when laying hose lines or setting up equipment Be respectful of property when laying hose lines or setting up equipment

64 Customer Service - Spring 0664 At work – Fire incidents Try before you pry! Try before you pry! Do not break things “because we can” Do not break things “because we can” Perform salvage work with a serious intent Perform salvage work with a serious intent Show compassion towards those who’ve had a fire Show compassion towards those who’ve had a fire

65 Customer Service - Spring 0665 After the Fire Try to leave the building in a good condition. Try to leave the building in a good condition. Salvage work continues after the fire is out. Salvage work continues after the fire is out. Assist the occupants in working with their insurance company. Assist the occupants in working with their insurance company. For businesses, do what we can to help restart them at a temporary location. For businesses, do what we can to help restart them at a temporary location.

66 Customer Service - Spring 0666 After the Fire! Returning to Normal Free from U.S. Fire Administration Free from U.S. Fire Administration Booklet or Downloadable PDF File Booklet or Downloadable PDF File

67 Scenarios Applying Customer Service to Real-Life Calls

68 Customer Service - Spring 0668 Scenario 1 You respond with your company and a private ambulance to a 58 year old female not breathing. Your company arrives in less than 3 minutes. Upon arrival, you find the patient in cardiac arrest, with four family members there. You recognize the patient’s husband as a town selectman. Firefighters and paramedics use an AED to quickly manage to restore the patient’s heart rhythm on scene, another comforts the family. She survives the incident. You respond with your company and a private ambulance to a 58 year old female not breathing. Your company arrives in less than 3 minutes. Upon arrival, you find the patient in cardiac arrest, with four family members there. You recognize the patient’s husband as a town selectman. Firefighters and paramedics use an AED to quickly manage to restore the patient’s heart rhythm on scene, another comforts the family. She survives the incident.

69 Customer Service - Spring 0669 Scenario 1 - Discussion What is the customer’s perception of the call? What is the customer’s perception of the call? What things went right? What things went right? What things went wrong? What things went wrong? What outcome can be expected from the call? What outcome can be expected from the call?

70 Customer Service - Spring 0670 Scenario 2 Your engine company responds on a first alarm assignment to a room and contents fire in a dwelling. After a quick knockdown and overhaul, firefighters are seen giving each other high-fives on the lawn in front of the family. Your engine company responds on a first alarm assignment to a room and contents fire in a dwelling. After a quick knockdown and overhaul, firefighters are seen giving each other high-fives on the lawn in front of the family.

71 Customer Service - Spring 0671 Scenario 2 - Discussion What is the customer’s perception of the call? What is the customer’s perception of the call? What things went right? What things went right? What things did go wrong? What things did go wrong? What outcome can be expected from the call? What outcome can be expected from the call?

72 Customer Service - Spring 0672 Scenario 3 You respond to a residential fire alarm activation. Your crew parks on the lawn, forces entry through a front door, and destroys several expensive vases in the homeowner’s collection. When confronted about the damage, the company officer swears at the homeowner, shouting “don’t tell me how to do my (insert colorful exploitive) job.” You respond to a residential fire alarm activation. Your crew parks on the lawn, forces entry through a front door, and destroys several expensive vases in the homeowner’s collection. When confronted about the damage, the company officer swears at the homeowner, shouting “don’t tell me how to do my (insert colorful exploitive) job.”

73 Customer Service - Spring 0673 Scenario 3 - Discussion What is the customer’s perception of the call? What is the customer’s perception of the call? What things went right? What things went right? What things did go wrong? What things did go wrong? What results can be expected from the call? What results can be expected from the call?

74 Customer Service - Spring 0674 Improving Your Own Department Remember, improvement starts with the individual Remember, improvement starts with the individual Enhance your department’s image Enhance your department’s image Changing / Implementing SOPs Changing / Implementing SOPs Awareness training for line personnel Awareness training for line personnel Fire Officer’s–Lead by Example Fire Officer’s–Lead by Example Improvement is a Continual Process!!! Improvement is a Continual Process!!!

75 Customer Service - Spring 0675 “The highest form of wisdom is kindness” “The highest form of wisdom is kindness” The Talmud

76 Customer Service - Spring 0676 Review Understand the concept of customer service Understand the concept of customer service Define who our customers are Define who our customers are Avoid the common pitfalls Avoid the common pitfalls Explain the ways customer service can affect us Explain the ways customer service can affect us Improve communication skills Improve communication skills Provide a higher level of customer service Provide a higher level of customer service

77 Customer Service - Spring 0677 The Internal Customer Don’t forget your brother and sister firefighters are customer’s too! Don’t forget your brother and sister firefighters are customer’s too! Essentials of Fire Department Essentials of Fire Department Customer Service – Section 2 “Always be nice – treat everyone with respect, kindness, patience, and consideration.” …(including Us!) Customer Service – Section 2 “Always be nice – treat everyone with respect, kindness, patience, and consideration.” …(including Us!)

78 Customer Service - Spring 0678 Fortune Cookie Customer Service Customer Service is like taking a bath; is like taking a bath; you have to keep doing it…

79 Have a Nice Day… Special Thanks - Chief (Ret.) Alan V. Brunacini Phoenix Fire Department Stephan Sanders – Sanders Communication Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Anna Maria College, Paxton MA Have a Nice Day… Special Thanks - Chief (Ret.) Alan V. Brunacini Phoenix Fire Department Stephan Sanders – Sanders Communication Massachusetts Firefighting Academy Anna Maria College, Paxton MA

80 Customer Service - Spring 0680 References Essentials of Fire Department Customer Service – Alan V. Brunacini - Fire Protection Publications Essentials of Fire Department Customer Service – Alan V. Brunacini - Fire Protection Publications Chief Fire Officer – IFSTA, Second Ed. Chief Fire Officer – IFSTA, Second Ed. Fire Officer Principles and Practice – Jones and Bartlett Fire Officer Principles and Practice – Jones and Bartlett Uncommon Sense, Leadership Principles to Grow Your Business Profitability – Thomas Faranda Uncommon Sense, Leadership Principles to Grow Your Business Profitability – Thomas Faranda the Speed of Thought – Bill Gates the Speed of Thought – Bill Gates USFA – Strategies for Marketing your Fire Department Today and Beyond USFA – Strategies for Marketing your Fire Department Today and Beyond Delivering Unforgettable Customer Service – Stephan Sanders – Sanders Communications, Inc. Delivering Unforgettable Customer Service – Stephan Sanders – Sanders Communications, Inc.

81 Customer Service - Spring 0681 Thank You! Captain Jim Vuona Captain Jim Vuona


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