We are challenged in unprecedented times in our courts, in our country, and around the world. When we talk about a virus most think about computers and what that does to the internet. The Coronavirus is more invasive affecting people around the world as demonstrated in global maps seen on the daily news. It has been a game-changer.
Daily life continues but much differently. Moving forward must be done cautiously and carefully. Compliance Service requires consistent incremental results towards cost obligations. But today’s times demand both reflection and adjustment to meet current needs. We must prioritize, innovate, cooperate, and empathize.
As long as the court continues and judges sentence defendants, new compliance service is required. Payment plans offer a bridge for customers needing time to pay. Payment terms should consider options for extending due dates or reducing regular payment amounts. Ongoing plans may require renegotiation. Defaulted plans should be paused for 30 to 60 days while attempting to establish contact with customers. The goal is to keep people in plans and contributing. In the short-term, this requires additional patience. In the long term, this additional patience will establish a better ongoing customer relationship.
Coronavirus requires reducing face to face contact. How do you accomplish the appropriate distance in a public service business? We can continue to introduce remote and self-service options for customers. This includes paying online, enrolling in payment plans, and keeping up with payment balances for ongoing plans. It also means notifying both in email and text messages by creating customer permissions in plans and providing online payment access in these electronic messages.
It also may mean expanding call center services for compliance service for new and existing plans. Don’t give up on planned activities. Talking can be done differently. Meetings between staff and agencies can also be conducted online using video services such as WebEx and Zoom.
Consider at home work for your compliance team. Data entry, payment plan updates, notifications, and call service could be accomplished by home-based team members.
Remember that you are not alone facing these challenges. Thinking together with your office could provide solutions for your team and theirs. Interagency cooperation may discover options for courts, law enforcement, probation, and correctional service. Help across departments, look for interagency integration possibilities, share across clerk’s offices.
Everyone needs time but today’s times require even more patience. Be a helpful public servant. Provide relaxed due dates, smaller installments with an endpoint. Show care, build trust.
We are a society built on fast food, immediate access, and quick resolutions. This time fast is not certain, immediate less likely, while quick results have paused. During these times of uncertainty, it is important to work together. The virus we now face will resolve. It’s important that we maintain our resolve as public servants and as a caring community demonstrating the best in customer service.
Don Murphy is the Principal and Senior Consultant for CIS which provides consulting and training for courts and local government. He is a nationally certified court professional as a Fellow with the National Center for State Courts and has over 25 years of court administration experience.