The Greene County Collector’s Office Defies the Usual Government Office Experience

Greene County Collector’s Office knows people don’t necessarily look forward to dealing with government entities. But this group of employees has made it their mission to far exceed any low customer service expectations.

By Hanna Flanagan

Nov 2018

green county collector's office staff photo in springfield missouri
Photo courtesy Leah BettsIn the Greene County Collector’s Office, you’ll see plenty of smiling team members ready to serve. This positivity is an expectation set by Greene County Collector of Revenue Leah Betts (second from right).

Bad customer service means bad business, right? If an employee treats you poorly, you’re probably going to take your hard-earned money elsewhere. But you can’t exercise this right at government entities such as the Greene County Collector’s Office. The office has no competition, so the staff have little incentive to make your taxpaying experience enjoyable. Still, the Greene County Collector’s Office has developed a reputation for stellar customer service. So much so, that stacked atop Greene County Collector of Revenue Leah Betts’ desk is a hefty binder filled with satisfied customer reviews. “I just want to let you know that I actually enjoyed paying my taxes this year,” reads one note from what’s called the Office Compliment Book. Another reads: “Your staff is awesome. In two minutes, I get some great jokes [and] a conversation about sports cars and Japanese linguistics... all while my tax paperwork is quickly and effectively processed.” 

The hundreds of other comments included in the binder practically blow government stereotypes out of the water—the atmosphere at Greene County Collector’s Office is nothing like that of a stereotypical DMV. “I try to train my people to look at it more like a public sector, like we’re trying to earn the business of people,” Betts says. “We have a great team, and they’ve responded very well to the training on that. Everyone here really wants to serve people.” 

Betts says her predecessor fostered great company culture within the Greene County Collector’s Office. So, when she was elected for a four-year term in 2015, she continued what he started and further improved on it. The first step Betts took was easy—and 100-percent free. She says she had no idea how effective it would be. She simply replaced the office’s automated voice message with a personalized version. “When you call into our office, you have to hear a message,” Betts says. “I made this really friendly message to let people know, ‘Hey, we want to serve you with a smile; we’re here for you.’ It puts people in a good mood to expect good things.”

An essential piece of Greene County Collector’s Office’s company culture is employing people who actually follow through with the promises in the automated message. To make this happen, Betts focuses on more than just a resume during the hiring process. “If we hire a new person, we explain this culture to them and we tell them what we expect,” Betts says. “We just don’t hire people that don’t already fit that mold. We look for enthusiasm and a desire to provide good customer service.” But even with a friendly group of employees, positive company culture has to start from the top; Betts says she and her leadership team walk into the office with a smile and treat customers with kindness. The positive energy is infectious and will inevitably trickle down. To those struggling with their own company culture, Betts says, “Look at yourself; see what you can do to be a better example. See what you can do to inspire.”