Principles of Customer Service

Golden rules of good service

Every agency should have a set of customer service principles that drives them to serve their customers to the best of their ability. Generally, these core principles include:

  • Speed
  • Quality
  • Customer satisfaction

Do you have a way of measuring your work against those principles? Are you quickly delivering accurate answers to people, and leaving them satisfied?

Reinforce Principles of Customer Service 

To cultivate core customer service principles at your agency, try these strategies:

  • The Golden Rule: What if your roles were reversed, and you were the one with the question? Just like your mom used to say: Are you treating people the way you would want to be treated?
  • Perfect the top tasks: Make sure that your team pays special attention to those things most important to your customers . . . their Top Tasks. Are they easy to find and complete? Do frequent user testing to validate.
  • Coordinate: Do you have a central place for customer questions and answers? If not, start today to build it! The Web is a natural customer service hub, so make sure everyone in your agency knows they should use your website as the definitive place to find answers to customer questions.
  • Boilerplates are great: Develop a list or database of the most frequently asked questions (and answers) that come into your office via phone, email, or the Web—and make sure that everyone in your agency who responds to questions knows how to find it, and uses it to respond to customer inquiries.
  • Smile: Yes, people really can hear it in your voice, so smile when you answer the phone, or when someone walks into your office.


Below are some examples of customer service principles:

Example 1 - from the Federal Web Managers Council report Putting Citizens First: Transforming Online Government (PDF, 46 KB, 4 pages, December 2008).

When the American people need government information and services online, they should be able to:

  • Easily find relevant, accurate, and up-to-date information;
  • Understand information the first time they read it;
  • Complete common tasks efficiently;
  • Get the same answer whether they use the web, phone, email, live chat, read a brochure, or visit in-person;
  • Provide feedback and ideas and hear what the government will do with them;
  • Access critical information if they have a disability or aren’t proficient in English.

Example 2 - from the State of Georgia, which has five customer service commitments, which are:

  • helpful
  • courteous
  • accessible
  • responsive
  • knowledgeable

These qualities are emphasized in Georgia’s statewide employee communication campaigns, training and recognition programs, annual performance reviews, and customer satisfaction surveys. 


Content Lead: Rachel Flagg
Page Reviewed/Updated: April 23, 2013

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