Measuring Customer Service in Real Time

In most lines of business, customers want your service. That might not always be the case for folks who come to the King County Treasurer’s office to pay their taxes because—are you sitting down? this may come as a shock—some people don’t like paying taxes.

That’s why the folks in the King County’s Treasurer’s office put extra emphasis on customer service.

“Sometimes we have a message to deliver that isn’t easy to deliver and can be hard for customers to take, but we can deliver it courteously and respectfully,” says Property Tax Supervisor Mark Thompson.

But how do you know if you are doing a good job of treating customers courteously? How do you measure that?

Thompson was mulling that challenge when he happened to see a Happy-or-Not device outside a SeaTac Airport restroom.

Now, Treasury is experimenting with the devices, asking their customers to rate how courteously and respectfully they were treated:

Happy-or-Not devices in the Treasury customer service line.

Thompson, Treasury Manager Scott Matheson, and the rest of the treasury staff are excited to see some of the information the devices will provide. Because the data can be broken out by time of day, day of week, particular teller window, etc., the team hopes that the immediate feedback will help them recognize exceptional staff (and learn from them) and also improve the process where needed.

The ease with which customers can give feedback (about half of customers are responding), and the granularity of real-time information, may help the team in a way that a survey questionnaire mailer, for example, might not.


Another example of Treasury’s customer focus are the red and green lights highlighted by the arrows in the picture below.

Red lights indicate teller is on phone

In the past, tellers who were on the phone appeared available but unresponsive to customers standing in line. It frustrated those customers, as they were left wondering why the teller wasn’t assisting them. Now the lights signal to customers when tellers are available (green) and when the teller is actually on the phone and unavailable (red).

One thought on “Measuring Customer Service in Real Time

  1. I made an interesting observation while traveling in France. My (American) mother was frustrated by long lines and clerks who seemed to take forever. However, when you got to the front, the clerks spent all the time they needed with us. My sense was that “customer service” in France did not mean fast in and out, as it so often does here. Instead it means giving time and attention to each customer.

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