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In early Spring 2001, the County Wastewater Management Program (WWM) embarked on an ambitious effort to increase customer awareness of program activities and to implement strategic communication activities to support the County's long-term wastewater management and pollution prevention goals. As part of its mission for excellence in public services, the WWM began developing an integrated Customer Service Outreach Program. The Customer Service Team – an internal WWM process improvement team – was assigned the lead in developing the outreach program.

The Customer Service Outreach Program has three elements that are interconnected: 1) surveying customer satisfaction, 2) developing an effective outreach plan based on defined goals and objectives and survey results, and 3) implementing outreach strategies through public and media education, web tool enhancements, event opportunities, and other targeted means. The outreach process will be constructed so that ongoing surveys can measure outreach effectiveness and be used to modify, redirect, or intensify the outreach efforts.

Professional customer satisfaction market research is currently being executed to benchmark and track customer knowledge of, and satisfaction with, the WWM's overall performance; to measure public awareness and attitudes; and to evaluate outreach strategy effectiveness.

The purpose of this paper is to describe the evolution of the Customer Service Team (2001 to present), results of employee surveys regarding perceptions of customer service (2000 and 2002), initial quantitative results of a customer survey (2003), and the development of a customer service plan for the Wastewater Management Program in Fairfax County, Virginia. This paper will also provide specific “nuts and bolts” information on survey strategies, methods and outcomes and describe survey methods, the selection of performance measurement scale(s) for quantitative surveys, the design of survey instruments, and the execution of surveys. In addition, this paper will discuss the development and evolution of anticipated outreach materials needed for an effective public outreach program.
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Document Type: Research Article

Publication date: 01 January 2004

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