Insights

Live from 12000 Government Center Parkway, Fairfax Virginia

I’m at the Fairfax County Government Vendor Forum today, and I find myself not only enjoying the excitement in the building but also conducting an informal customer service assessment. (I just can’t help it.) Here are some customer service choices that I’ve seen the County make today that are helping them to serve me (as its customer):

What They’re Doing Right
  1. The welcome! When I walked into the main entrance at the Government Center, there was a whole crowd of staff there to welcome me. Signs abound (both inside and out). Arrows direct me to where I need and want to go. And staff provided information about refreshments and restrooms.
  2. The green t-shirts! The staff members who were present specifically to help me were all wearing bright green t-shirts with the Fairfax County logo on them. There was never a time during the day when I looked around and didn’t see at least one green t-shirted person who could try to answer a question or help me find my way.
  3. True help! I just saw a gentleman open the door of our break-out session, right in the middle of it, looking very confused. A green-shirted person walked quickly over to the door. What I heard was: “Are you okay?… Oh, that session is down the hall in Room 8. I’ll take you there.” She quietly closed the door behind her to not disturb our session, and they walked down the hall together.
  4. Derailed?! I know well, as a facilitator, how one single individual can derail a presentation or moderated session. And in very large groups, it’s practically inevitable and so—of course—it happened today. The skilled moderator used his sense of humor to stop one individual from stealing the show so that we could all benefit from the expertise of the panel.
  5. Speaking of expertise… I applaud the County for bringing in high-level experts in their fields such as Tracey Jeter, Virginia’s Department of Small Business and Supplier Diversity, and such as the bankers and financiers, marketing, branding and social media experts who served on the panels. These experts had great attitudes and advice and seemed happy to participate and to answer questions.
  6. Feedback! In every session, regardless of who was moderating, we were asked to provide feedback on paper forms and submit the forms to someone in a green t-shirt. We were also asked to Tweet, which perhaps I should learn to do…
Improving Service

What could have been improved, you might ask? Well, I gave suggestions for minor improvements on the feedback forms! But here, I wanted to share what I saw that made the County successful at the Vendor Fair. It was the choices they made as a group in advance (about signage, being visible, bringing the right people into the room) and the choices they each made as individuals throughout the day (to be open, to be truly helpful, to have a sense of humor, and to engage with participants). Thank you, Fairfax County, for the opportunity to engage and learn with you.

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