In the UK, police chiefs are taking some customer service tips from a popular department store named John Lewis where customer service is treated as a skill. It seems a recent survey revealed that officers "answered their mobile phones while talking to people or had unprofessional musical ring tones."
Now I'm not sure if unprofessional ring tones should be a significant complaint of a police officer's lack of customer service skills, but the idea presented more ideas that have merit. According to the article, the Greater Manchester Police could benefit from treating the public with more consideration and approachability; after all we're all not the "bad guys." The article suggested that officers be more considerate when speaking with crime victims and witnesses.
It's doubtful that the Greater Manchester Police are going to sit through any of John Lewis' formal customer training courses, and the police department has of course denied that was ever in their plans, but why shouldn't police officers be trained in some of the best practices of customer service? They are here to serve the public, and can't we expect to be treated as important citizens?
So let us look into what important basics of customer service we would like to expect from police officers regardless of the country they serve. Officers should be able to listen to people. Perhaps taking a personal phone call while speaking with a citizen is rude, but then again we as citizens have to be able to understand our assumed perception of whom the person is on the other end of the iPhone might not be a girlfriend, a wife, or a friend. A police officer's professional life can be multi-faceted, so it is important not to assume.
It is important, however that police officials keep victims updated on the progress of their inquiries; people are entitled to know how their cases are developing, and police departments although busy do have public relation departments that can add to customer service. People just want to be kept in the loop; what happens after a crime is reported? It is part of the job, and being polite and informative is a learned skill; something that should be required even from the police.
I wonder if the top performing police officers will be rewarded with outstanding customer service certificates as sales representatives are at John Lewis?