A focus on customer service helps municipal workers achieve more with less according to Bill Ondulich, building official.
A successful career in the public sector requires more than careful budgeting and adherence to the ordinance. Successful municipal employees and other government workers need to focus on delivering excellent customer service according to Building Official Bill Ondulich.
Bill Ondulich served in various roles for the City of Largo in Florida and focused on streamlining operations in a variety of associated divisions while increasing turnaround times for visitors. At Largo, Bill Ondulich managed an operating budget of approximately $1.75 million and assumed a leadership role of over 21 employees.
Through careful leadership, Bill Ondulich transitioned a key city department to a customer-driven focus and away from a strictly procedural, rule-driven philosophy. By focusing on customer service, the number of times spent with visitors by each employee was greatly reduced.
Streamlining customer transactions involves moving from a point-to-point approach, which can be a labor-intensive undertaking, to a more one-stop flow focused on navigating customers through all necessary steps within the department at one time. According to Bill Ondulich, certain target areas for improvement, such as inspections and plan review, were part of customer-focused efforts that also streamlined operations.
Continued | Bill Ondulich
A key component of navigating to a reduced workload with efficient dispatch of customer inquiries, applications and permits was securing industry software and other technology to better connect customers of city departments, such as planning or code enforcement, with virtual tools.
In 2017, Bill Ondulich started a bid review process and later acquired approximately $1 million in necessary hardware and software for operations. A system administrator was also engaged to start a needs analysis.
An easy determination made by Bill Ondulich was that acquiring and implementing new development software would make it possible for contractors and other key industry professionals to apply for permits and file plans online for approval. By providing this service, customers are able to more quickly comply with city codes from their computers and other devices. Meanwhile, employees are able to review plans more efficiently and with greater detail.
Automating routine manual processes also frees up employees for more development-focused projects to benefit the city. However, transitioning more services to online access is only part of the picture.
Bill Ondulich also believes in staffing and oversaw the hiring of additional workers to keep up with the demands of customers at key city positions and reduce overall wait times as new procedures were implemented.