We ♥ These Customer Service Teams


It’s that time of year people are sending valentines to each other. In the same spirit, I’m expressing my admiration to some of our colleagues for their dedication to our customers. 

I didn’t offer a lace-trimmed card, but I was proud to present them the annual HEART of Service Award, the highest recognition we give to employees for providing exceptional customer service.

This year the honors go to four different teams. And yes, these are all team efforts. While there are many things we all do individually to help customers, pulling together increases the impact beyond the sum of the parts. Here’s a brief look at the work each did.   

Bridges Out of Poverty

Breaking the cycle of poverty has become a focus at the County. And like most of the social issues we deal with, poverty is complex and not suited to one-size-fits-all solutions. Child Support Services and the Public Safety Group Executive Office brought a training program called Bridges Out of Poverty to San Diego. About 250 County employees from 25 different departments attended. They got insight into behaviors of people who struggle with poverty and learned communications tactics to use when dealing with people from a variety of backgrounds.

Know Our Customers is one of the steps of our Journey to a Positive Customer Experience, and the team that put on this event did excellent work helping us improve that understanding.

Communicable Disease Investigators

The County initiative Getting to Zero is named for the number of HIV infections we want to see in the region. A lofty goal, but we’re steadily moving there thanks to the efforts of a team of communicable disease investigators.

“Investigator” doesn’t convey all they do. They work in a variety of ways to prevent new infections, encourage people at risk to be tested, and direct those infected into treatment. That requires a lot of direct communications, often in the field at people’s homes or other locations.

A person’s health is a highly private, sensitive matter. These investigators use compassion, empathy and all the traits of HEART in helping clients get services they need and taking steps to protect the public’s health.

Movies in the Park

Last year, more than 40,000 people spent an evening at a local park enjoying a movie, free of charge. It was the 11th year of the Summer Movies in the Park program, which takes advantage of San Diego’s great weather and outdoor locations to provide this family-friendly entertainment opportunity.

Making it easy for the moviegoers takes a lot of work on our end. Coordinating with other cities that host the events. Lining up sponsors, so we can offer these movies without charging admission and keep them open to everyone. Dealing with the licenses needed to show top-notch films. Getting the word out to residents and visitors that they have this option.

Like the crews that support the stars on screen, this Parks and Recreation team does an incredible job behind the scenes to bring this event series to life.

Project One for All

Repeating what I and others have said before: homelessness is a highly complex issue. It has to be addressed on multiple fronts together.

Project One for All is one such multifaceted approach. It provides treatment and housing for people with a serious mental illness who are experiencing homelessness. From 2016, when the Board of Supervisors approved the initiative, through last August, nearly 800 people have gotten the stability of a place to live combined with the mental health services they need.

Complex issues take coordinated efforts, and the team supporting the project cuts across several departments. It’s a great case of uniting in service of one common goal.

These are just a few standout examples of how we’re delivering a positive customer experience. The great news is they’re not unusual. I see so many of you wearing your HEART on your sleeve, so to speak, in so many ways, every day. I applaud all your efforts and thank you for keeping customers always front and center in everything we do.   

P.S. Speaking of heart, we’re coming up on our annual Love Your Heart blood pressure screening event. It takes place Valentine’s Day, Feb. 14, and a number of County work sites will offer the screenings. Take a few minutes to know your numbers and help us make this year’s event the biggest ever.