Customer service is an important issue that more and more Tribal organizations are beginning to understand. The old attitude was that it did not matter how we treated those we serve because we were the only “game” in town and that they will always come back no matter what. First of all this is not entirely true For example in your health program if Tribal members have medicare, private insurance or are veterans they have other choices and if enough of them go other places for their health it will have a major impact on your third party cash flow.

It is important that your staff be trained on customer service and this should be done on a regular basis. This is so that staff continue to upgrade their skills and also due to the fact that you add new staff each year who need to understand the customer service basics. For more information on this topic go to We provide training in this area and make it culturally specific for your Tribe

Make sure you have the right people in the right positions. I once had a receptionist who worked in a situation where she met the public and I started getting complaints about her negative attitude. Come to find out she was an introvert and didn’t really like interacting with the public. She was very professional and I did not want to lose her so I reassigned her to medical records and she was very happy. I replaced her with someone who had excellent people skills and filled the position very well.

Find ways to measure how effective your customer service implementation is. One of the ways you can do this is to conduct focus groups with Tribal members to ask them what their experience is with various departments within the Tribe. I have found this to be an excellent way to get meaningful feedback that will help you to see if your customer service is where it should be. Another easy way to get data is to have customers fill out surveys when they interact with a Tribal program. You can offers some small incentives to motivate them to fill it out. Once you have the information you need to analyze the data and then share it at staff meetings so they will know where they need to improve.

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