Every organization serves customers. Retail stores, governments, hospitals and restaurants they all serve customers, both internally and externally. So, shouldn’t meeting the needs of all of their customers be a top priority? Trickle-down service may be the most effective way to serve everyone.

Fire departments, like other organizations, are trying to make their way through tough economical times while maintaining, or improving, their customer service. But operational decisions made while weathering a storm must not ignore your organization’s first customers, your members. Making drastic changes, even if needed, must be done with care in order to meet the service needs of your members first. Take care of your members first, and, as a result, they will feel better about what they do. Your members deal directly with the community, so customer service is a key part of their responsibilities. Here are some ways to trickle customer service down through your organization:

Customer service trickles down from leadership, through members, to customers. Bypassing your members will not improve your customer service. Your members are the people on the front lines with your customers. You have to go through your members first.

Happy members make customers and the organization’s leaders happy. When your members experience good customer service they are happy. When your members are happy they serve their customers better. When your members and their customers are happy, well then, your organization’s leaders have no choice but to be happy. Everyone is happy!

Happy members help the organization work better. Unhappy members do not make extra effort to help, and sometimes make things worse causing more financial problems and less efficiency. Whereas, happy members contribute and take responsibility to make their organization better. They take initiative and go the extra mile. To improve your organization, keep your members happy!

How is the customer service at your organization? How have you tried to increase it through your members? Are your members happy?

Read more on leadership at FireGroundWorks

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Comment by Jack/dt on July 25, 2012 at 11:23pm

Sorry but our 'customers' are no more customers than are voters, taxpayers or shareholders. 

We deal with the public and so far as I know, they don't have the option to shop around for the best fire department.  I don't know of anyone who comparison shops before deciding on a fire department. 

Employing the concept of 'customer' and 'customer service' implies a choice that the public doesn't have.  I agree that the 'service' a taxpayer receives may be a result of the overall morale and department culture but nonetheless it's still not 'customer service.'  It's the service one receives from a municipal department.

Yes, getting out into the community can help by enlightening the public as to the services provided and the funding necessary to provide said services but, whereas Lowes and Home Depot advertise to get a customer's business, a (at least my) fire department has a lock it, no other fire department is going to be enticing our taxpayers to use them instead of us.

It's not about customer service, it's about providing the best possible service to the taxpayers, and treating the taxpayers as people, not as a job and not as customers (who have a choice.)

Comment by Billy Schmidt on July 23, 2012 at 5:00pm

Pete, your're right. Getting out into the community is a great way to connect and create a customer relationship, especially in South Florida where there are lots of community organizations.


Comment by Peter Reilly on July 22, 2012 at 10:12am

   Hi Bill,

  I could not agree with you more on this. During these tough times it is hard to keep everybody happy. What we have done a few years ago is started to join the home associations that are by the fire station to meet the people that live in our area. At the meetings we talk about our job and what we do . You would be amazed on how much the people do not know what our job and what we do. This was the best way to meet the customer. I have always stated you have to treat the fire department like a company and you have a service to sell and you are the best out there. When we started this program we did have a lot of complaints from some of the men that thought this was a waste of time, but after a few meetings the ones that were complaining started to see a more positive outlook on this . When it comes down to when the fire department needs support these customer will come to your aid and support the fire department. You are right that all this has to start from the top and work it way down. When we started the fire department we are taught team work and we are all on the same team , but some times some people forget this. I feel that some times it comes down to the basic and keep it simple.These tough times will not last forever and you have to stay positive and keep your crew the same as well. These are just my thoughts their are a lot of difference things to say and do to keep everybody happy , These are just a few things that we have done and they work .


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