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As the City of Ranson continues to grow, City Manager Anthony Grant says the city’s leaders are looking at how to perform their duties and obligations in a more efficient, customer-service oriented manner.

“Top-notch customer service is the only way we are going to be successful,” Grant said. “We want everyone to want to stay and to build in Ranson.”

As a result, the city will soon implement a customer service improvement program that will help better serve the community.

The city’s efforts at first are going to focus on community development, which includes building permits and code enforcement.

“The point of this initiative isn’t to abandon our codes, but to deliver the level of customer service our citizens deserve,” Grant said.

The people who work in Grant’s office don’t have the authority to decide what’s in the city’s building codes. That’s typically a job for the city council.  But, as Grant explained, that doesn’t mean that the city’s employees can’t work toward making the experience of dealing with the city a pleasant one.

“I want to focus on the treatment of our citizens from a customer service standpoint,” Grant said. “Were they treated with kindness and respect? Did our employees respond in a timely fashion?  People can disagree with a rule or an outcome, but the process is important and I want people to feel like the process was professional and our people behaved with integrity.”

One way of achieving this goal will be to examine what’s happening on the phones.

“We will be looking at some basic metrics such as how many calls go to voicemail and if it does, how long until we can return the call,” Grant said.

Another important part of the process will be seeking community input.

“We will also include members of the community to provide input on the customer service experience,” Grant said. “The first members of the community who will be engaged will be those who currently or recently had engagement with our Community Development Department.”

This customer service initiative is one that will be ever-expanding as time moves on, Grant explained.

“We’re going to start training our people on community development and other aspects of what we do at City Hall are going to be included,” Grant said.

A big part of the training will be to encourage the city’s employees to take ownership and to speak up, or as a popular saying goes, “if you see something, say something.”

“When our people see opportunities for improvement, we want them to feel that they can speak up and help make improvements,” Grant said.

Another important aspect of the initiative is the training itself.  Grant envisions a program where teaching moments will be seized and the learning never stops.

“We understand that there’s an opportunity for improvement,” Grant said. “The training will be ongoing and the focus is going to be on the root cause driving problems. We want the training to be targeted and dynamic with a continuing system of checks and balances.”

Through the training, Grant is looking for teamwork, but with an emphasis on the needs of each citizen as an individual. Not every answer has to be all-encompassing documented procedure.

“It’s important that we stay away from one-size fits all solutions,” Grant said. “You don’t want to use a sledge hammer when a screw driver will do.  When you do that, you wind up pounding it in until you can’t even remove the screw.”

Through this plan, Grant wants to set a tone at City Hall for the city’s citizens.

“Our community isn’t filled with subjects,” Grant said. “If any one is a subject or a servant here, it’s me.  It’s all of us who work here at City Hall. We all are servants to the people who live and work in Ranson.”

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