Customer Service: Best Practices

Your goal should be to always provide quality customer service to every customer no matter the circumstance. Here are some best practices regarding various aspects of your work in AFS.

Have each customer watch the Rights and Responsibilities Video. We must tell customers of their rights to apply for the benefits DHS provides, to be treated respectfully and for their applications to be processed according to the guidelines of the program without prejudice. We must explain their responsibility to be truthful in the information they provide and the consequences of providing false information. We must also assure them that information given in interviews will be kept confidential. This establishes a good foundation of trust for any interactions between worker and customer. This process also allows DHS to obtain permission from customers for DHS to verify any information provided in the application process.

For each qualifying event, offer Voter Registration to the customer, and complete Voter Registration Statement with customer and record response in FACS. Assist the customer with the Voter Registration Application if it is requested.

Listen with intention to customers during interviews. Customers are often in a desperate situation. Allow each customer time to explain their situation so that you can best determine the resources and services they may need. Use this opportunity to ask pertinent open ended questions to obtain the most information you can to best complete their applications.

Make timeliness a priority in your work. Be on time for scheduled interviews. If you have an interview that is going to go over the allotted time, find a way to notify the next scheduled customer of the delay. All applications for DHS programs have processing deadlines. Work cases as soon as possible once all verification has been submitted so that customers receive the benefits they desperately need.

It is not always possible to be by your phone for the entirety of the work day so you will receive several voicemails daily. Maintain quality customer service by returning all phone calls in a timely manner. Keep a phone log to organize and document your contact with customers over the telephone. Review cases before returning the call to check to see if customers have any benefit renewals or reviews that are upcoming, any outstanding verification needed, or recent applications. Always have a list of area resources close by so that a referral can be made for any services they may need.
Follow through on any promise you make to a customer. If you say you are going to mail the customer an application or resource list, mail it directly after the phone call.

Do not state with certainty to a customer that they are eligible for any benefit before processing the case. Remember that It takes some time for benefits to post to an EBT card after a case is processed. The benefits your customer has applied for are the safety net catching them from a crisis free fall. The actions you take result in medical care for the sick, food for the hungry, and safety for children. Wanting to know if and when that help will arrive is natural for anyone. Give as accurate a reply as possible with a general timeframe so that the customer is well informed and can make plans for immediate needs.

Respond to customer complaints in a professional manner. When we are in crisis we may be angry, abrupt and sensitive. Try to imagine what it must feel like to be in the customer’s situation. You may have been in a similar situation yourself at some time. Remember what that felt like. Put yourself in their shoes. Respond empathetically to their concerns and work to meet their immediate need. Sometimes that need is to be heard and treated with respect.

If a customer’s case has closed due to their failure to provide some documentation or complete a case renewal, you can provide several solutions to help the customer provide the required documentation or complete the renewal process. Remember that living in poverty often makes it very difficult to keep up with papers and appointments simply because of unstable housing, unreliable transportation etc.

Despite your best efforts you may make mistakes in your work that affect the customer. Take responsibility for your mistake, sincerely apologize and do your best to correct the problem.

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