Question: From time to time, I need to request information from other departments. It seems like my requests are the last thing on anyone’s list. What can I do?

Answers from frontline reps —

Bridge the gap. It can seem as though your request is put on the back burner, but that most likely is not the case. Just as you are busy working with your customers, your peers in other areas are doing the same thing. This is a situation that commonly happens between departments. If you do feel that the relationship is strained, you can always work with your management to suggest a fun activity that includes all areas. If you are not aware of exactly what the area is responsible for on a daily basis, request the opportunity to shadow someone from that team. This not only provides you with an inside look at the department, but can help bridge the gap that you feel. 
Rachel Dillon, Assurant

Meet regularly. The 311 Customer Service Division acts as the Customer Service Center for several city departments. As a result, we MUST partner and collaborate to resolve the requests and inquiries of our community members. 

To facilitate a cohesive working relationship we meet as cross-functional teams on a monthly basis to review open issues. 

We are also working on Service Level Agreements (SLA) with our internal departments. Internal expectations can be a slippery slope at times, however, if we focus on the service needs of the customer we can usually settle on a timeframe that works for everyone. 

Another step we have taken this past year is to set up shadowing sessions with internal departments. The program has helped us have more respect for each other and a better understanding of the workload of each department. 
Kathy Cassidy, City of Berkeley, CA

Play together. Teams that play well together work well together too. Having a moment to socialize and get to know one another can make a world of difference. If you don’t have the time to do that in your workday, try a group gift exchange between departments. Another way you can inspire cooperation in your workplace is to start an anonymous kudos program. These types of programs can be used to “catch people in the act” of helping someone else or living your organization’s guiding principles. That way, our reality shapes our perceptions and we create a more functional, efficient, thriving, and personally fulfilling workplace.
Megann Wither, Doc’s Doggie Day Care

Communication is very important in situations like this. While your perception is that your request is not a priority to others, those departments have a process for responding to requests to ensure fairness to all departments. Seek to understand if these departments have a specific turnaround time on requests that can be communicated to the customer. This will allow you to give solid expectations to the customer. To improve service levels, try to have face-to-face or phone communication with representatives from these departments to fully understand if there is a method by which time sensitive requests can be flagged to be processed quicker. Also, discuss the positive impacts to the company that result from requests being completed ahead of customer expectations. While there may be different groups or departments, there is one team, one company, working together toward the common mission.
Stacy Ernst, Navy Federal Credit Union

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