Yakima trains employees in customer service after negative feedback

Yakima trains employees in customer service after negative feedback »Play Video
YAKIMA, Wash. -- Yakima gets a failing grade for customer service. Hundreds of cities took a citizen survey across the country. Yakima scored in the bottom five for customer service from its workers.

Jeff Pettingill say's he's always been satisfied with the customer service he receives in Yakima. City officials hope more people come to feel like Jeff.

"Having your questions answered and your problems taken care of you know, with a nice friendly smile it helps," said Jeff Pettingill.

But, Jeff is in the minority. Results from the most recent citizen survey show many aren't satisfied. In 2012, 60 percent of citizens indicated they were satisfied with customer service. That number dropped to less than half last year. Yakima wants to change that.

"I don't accept the fact that government can't provide the same quality of service as provided in the private sector," said Tony O'Rourke, Yakima city manager. "I've been involved with cities that have provided service at an extremely high level and I know we have the capacity of doing that here too."

Yakima will spend about ten grand on a customer service academy.
An outside company will train 20 key employees, who will then train the rest of Yakima's 750 employees. The city manager says its more than just being friendly, but improving the quality of everyone's overall experience. KIMA searched through Yak Back to find some common complaints the city gets, and asked the city manager how they'll be addressed.

One common complaint was wanting to see graffiti cleaned up..

"They want us to respond immediately to getting rid of the graffiti, said O'Rourke. "Not days or weeks, but immediately, so that's a standard we have to meet."

Another issue you mentioned was getting debris cleaned from bike lanes.

"We need to make sure we're looking at the roadways as you are as a customer, so that if we notice something we address it, we don't just wait for someone to call us with a complaint," said O'Rourke.

Forward thinking to make sure you get the experience you deserve.

The first training courses will start next month.