To be effective, we must continually connect a lot of different organizational pieces into the operation of an integrated system. They include our physical assets (stuff) like facilities, equipment, tools, apparatus, electronics, SOPs and software. Very little in our business is automated, so...
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In any case, we have the chance to add value by first providing quick/effective customer-centered service and then going beyond that level to meet our definition of nice (WOW! level). This creates in and of itself an exceptional customer experience. Sometimes the situation offers the opportunity to do some extra nice stuff that is outside our traditional approach (and mentality). These are the activities and experiences that over the long haul create an exceptional feeling, trust level and loyalty among the customers, and a very special fire department reputation within the community.
This added value is the result of smart/capable fire crews that are empowered on their level to identify and respond to service delivery opportunities right on the spot and then being positively reinforced by bosses (also smart, capable and empowered) who create an organizational experience and trust-based feeling that make those crews want to do it again. Simply, we repeat behavior that is rewarded ... pretty basic, huh?
Alan Brunacini, a Firehouse® contributing editor, has been a member of the Phoenix Fire Department for 38 years and has been the fire chief for the past 18 years. This article is excerpted from his book, Essentials Of Fire Department Customer Service, available from Fire Service Publications, 800-654-4055.