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City fishing for more than compliments

Were you happy with the police officer who handed you a speeding ticket? Thrilled with the staffer who helped you fill out your job application?

If your experience was good, bad or so-so _ the city of Largo wants to know.

Starting this month, department heads will be randomly calling people to find out what they think.

The feedback will be used to make City Hall more customer friendly and to streamline processes such as getting a building permit.

"In some areas, we do a fantastic, jam-up job," said Kevin Bronson, assistant to the city manager. But in other areas, "the bureaucratic process slows us down a little bit."

Customer satisfaction cards have also been placed at all customer service counters inviting people to answer these questions: "Did we meet your expections? How did we do?"

Residents can rate the service they received with rankings ranging from poor to excellent.

The new program is modeled after many businesses, which typically call and send surveys asking for feedback on customer service.

Usually, people who are real upset will call and complain, said City Manager Steven Stanton. The program is an effort to be more proactive.

"It would be nice if someone who's moderately happy filled it out every now and then," Bronson said of the new cards.

Each department head will also randomly call three to five people each month.

"We'll do it as long as we get good information," Stanton said.

Stanton had toyed with the idea of getting police officers to hand out the customer satisfaction cards after writing speeding tickets. But he decided it wouldn't go down too well.

Drivers, he figured, would probably toss the cards out of the window as they drove off.

It would also require too many cards, said the city's customer service "committee of one," Bronson.

If a department received multiple complaints, employees might be asked to undergo customer service training, said Bronson. "We wouldn't let anything go unresolved," he said.

A new employee recognition program will also be implemented this month in which department directors will nominate an employee or employees twice a month.

The employee who will be recognized will receive two movie passes and a letter commending the person for exemplary service.

_ Shannon Tan can be reached at 445-4174 or