Customer Service Hall of Fame

October 1, 2013, Department, by Steve Thompson, CPRP

Steve Thompson, NRPA's outgoing chair of the board of directors, shares his thoughts on the role the association's impeccable customer service has on its success and approval rating among itsAfter almost 50 years in the association business, I can boil down why NRPA has become such a successful nonprofit organization: customer service.

I am buoyed by the fact that no matter how sophisticated NRPA’s data-management tools, communication devices and membership resources become, the success of our national association comes down to human interaction. The incredible human relationship of the NRPA staff with our membership trumps all in the association business. So, why does the NRPA staff have such an outstanding reputation in providing prompt, courteous and friendly service to the membership? It’s because it starts from the top and permeates throughout all of the personnel at the national headquarters.

Our CEO and President Barbara Tulipane is a fanatic at providing the very best service to our membership, partnering organizations and the general public. The term “customer service” usually brings to mind a call center fielding customer complaints for a mass retailer or service provider, but at NRPA, this means that all of the employees serve as a personal call center where they respond to all members and outside inquiries promptly and with a supportive demeanor.

If you’re a good salesperson, you can sell anything to anyone once. But it is your approach to customer service that determines whether or not you’ll ever be able to sell that person anything else. So, then, why is outstanding customer service the norm at NRPA? It’s because the staff truly believe that the essence of good customer service is forming a relationship with their customers — a relationship that the individual customer feels that he or she would like to pursue.

How does the NRPA staff go about forming such a relationship with our membership, partnering organizations and the general public? By remembering the one true secret of good customer service and acting accordingly: You will be judged by what you do, not what you say. Our CEO and president, the vice presidents and all of the NRPA staff ensure that the association consistently does these things: (1) Answer the phone or respond to emails immediately; (2) Truly listen to members and are attentive; (3) Deal with complaints and/or concerns promptly and with courtesy; and (4) Take the extra step…the staff always extend an extra effort in helping our members.

Kudos to Barbara and all of the staff at the NRPA headquarters for making our national association the very best through their continued diligence and genuine concern in providing the highest level of customer service.

My best to you in parks and recreation!