Westlake PD hires consultancy for buyer expertise enchancment
The Westlake Police Department, which serves the Westlake suburb of Cleveland, has hired The DiJulius Group, a Cleveland-based consulting firm, to help the police develop a customer experience program.
The announcement follows a similar assignment that The DiJulius Group – a specialist in customer service training and advice – completed for the Charlotte Metropolitan Police Department (CMPD).
“Cooperation with the DiJulius groups is increasingly focused on customer service-oriented police services, which is a realistic, immediately effective way of addressing national concerns about police behavior,” said Johnny Jennings, chief executive of the CMPD.
The term customer service / experience in the context of police work seems bizarre at first. For business organizations, customer service is an important investment area as it is a critical element in customer acquisition, satisfaction and retention. Police services need not worry that a citizen will be dissatisfied with their interaction with the police service because they cannot use the services of a competing agency.
There’s a reason going to DMV, for example, is such a miserable experience – you can’t just choose another provider to renew a license plate. The DMV has no incentive to provide better service to its citizens as it has little impact on organizational dysfunction. The police stations occupy a similar space.
What are the risks of poor customer service in a police context, apart from the publicized citizen’s risk of being killed by a law enforcement officer? For the departments of the elected sheriffs there is a potential consequence of being voted out of office in the next election. At regular police stations, the boss can be put under pressure to resign after a police murder with a particularly bad appearance. In addition, some officers may be convicted of murder rather than simply acquitted, as noted in Derek Chauvin’s seminal conviction.
Police departments are also incentivized to undertake light public relations efforts that have the faintest appearance of reform but in reality maintain the status quo – and organizations of all stripes tend to favor the status quo. This enables them to highlight active reform efforts without addressing the serious problems of conducting policing in America.
“If you break it down, 97% of police interactions don’t result in an arrest. Of the 2.8% that lead to an arrest, 0.5% are violent crimes, ”said a press release from the DiJulius Group. “In 2020, CMPD had 514,000 interactions and 500,000 of them were non-life threatening. This is the focus of this work. “
However, if police-citizen relationships are to be designed in the context of customer service, they cannot be separated from violent interactions. Police services exist primarily to protect the peace, not to wave cars through broken traffic lights or to fetch cats from trees. Every service interaction is a customer service interaction, including those where a citizen is shot dead by the police. Avoiding this area would be like choosing to focus only on customer service calls where the employee doesn’t shout racial labels at customers when the company has a serious problem with call center staff yelling at customers racist slogans.
If improving customer service in a police station does not include the central goal of reducing the number of deaths in police interactions, then public funding is going in the wrong area.
Obviously, this is a more difficult and important issue and encompasses immense challenges that include police culture, guidelines and training on the use of force, the militarization of police departments, and racial bias in police interactions. But as Teddy Roosevelt once said, “Nothing in the world is worth having or doing unless it involves effort, pain and difficulty.”