Behind the reception desk, an entire organization to rethink

“The quality of the user relationship is a direct reflection of internal mobility and the relationship between the community and its agents. If we want to improve the public services experience and give credibility to the front office, it needs a profound changes in the ways of decision-making, collaboration and management in the back office ”, warns Nasiha Aboubeker, consultant sociologist, who specializes in public reception professions. and co -author, co -author Etienne Bufquin, of the National Territorial Mutual Fund (MNT) observatory study “For expert reception of user relations in local public services”, published in 2021.

Noticeable aggression

“We can’t talk about service quality if working conditions aren’t good”, added Julie Breteau, reception manager, project manager “quality approach to user relations” in the town of Niort.

So by becoming a “better treated” organization with acceptance agents the community will be able to treat users better. Treating and professionalizing your reception is even more important as the dematerialization of methods leaves the entire section of society by the wayside. “The user experience, which is centered on digital tools, is always in contrast to the public services experience where the user is captivated by methods designed according to internal constraints”, says Nasiha Aboubeker.

If communities observe a general decline in party attendance, the public who present themselves there will always have difficulty with digital technology and are overwhelmed. “People find themselves in a position of‘ ignorance ’, they feel despised by the administration, which produces aggression”, reports Fabienne Pelletier, general manager of services at Trégueux (150 agents, 8,500 inhabitants ., Côtes-d’Armor). This does not mean that we should abandon digitalization, which has achieved the expectations of a large segment of the population.

Everyone on board

“Since Covid, physical and phone reception has decreased. People are using our chatbot, which saves us from 8,000 to 10,000 calls per year and eliminates anything that comes back. Phone reception is now asked for specific questions ”, observed Marc Bourhis, general manager of community services in the communes heart Côte Fleurie (12 communes, 110 agents, 20,700 inhabitants, Calvados). More than ever before, reception staff should be given the capacity to provide a first level of responsiveness, reliable information and provide explanations as needed.

“The reception agent profession should be understood as an emotional act of inclusion, performed by relationship professionals, within a structure reorganized around the priority of providing quality service. It should be we will move from a “front door” welcome to a welcome that guarantees user satisfaction ”, according to Nasiha Aboubeker. To achieve this, agents must, of course, be trained in the theoretical and practical aspects of the job, but may also be genuinely able to occupy the position of reception. “We need to end the default reclassification of reception,” Nasiha Aboubeker insisted. Acceptance, in order to have quality, must above all be the business of the entire organization.

All operating services must be onboard. Five reception agents in the urban community of Sicoval (36 municipalities, 1,200 agents, 79,500 inhabitants, Haute-Garonne) regularly tour the directors to find out about their projects and see what answers users can provide. “We mean together how far we have communicated to the public,” said Edwige Lys, head of the reception staff team. At the same time, to enhance inter-knowledge, a network was established with management assistants and cross-immersions of reception agents were conducted between the intermunicipal authority and municipalities.

The right posture

Sicoval and its 36 municipalities are committed to increasing the skills of receiving agents, to achieve the objectives set out in a charter signed jointly, by training them, facilitating exchanges between them and promoting emerging group solutions. “Agents work together to showcase their experience in the field. There is recognition for their work,” said Antoine Michel-Nigris, head of the community’s “population relations management” department.

A process for sharing information between local authorities was also launched in 2018 by the department of Côtes-d’Armor (3,300 agents) to enable staff to receive from the associated local authority (the Saint-Brieuc Armor agglomeration community, the CA Dinan agglomeration, the Loudéac community center in Brittany, the CC Leff Armor community, the CC Lamballe land and sea) to provide users with the first elements of information and direct they are in the right contacts.

Within the structure of participatory working groups, composed of reception agents from local authorities, hundreds or more sheets used as the basis of information for the public were produced. Two days of training are planned to accompany the deployment of the system. “In addition to getting grips with the software, territory expertise is discussed, the posture of the reception agent and the way users deal with pose difficulties”, explained Patrick Vallée, director of home in the Dinan department.

A base of 500 sheets of information compiled by the team

[Niort (Deux-Sèvres) 1 200 agents, 59 200 hab.] In 2015, the city and the municipal social action center of Niort launched a process to improve the quality of reception that improved, in 2018, toward the goal of overall user relationship improvement. Two years ago, “general acceptance”, “identity documents”, “elections”, “conservation of cemeteries” and “early childhood relay” services were certified “Qualivilles”.

“The commitments we have in the context of certification require equipping ourselves. We need to manage the process, change our practices and our organization to be more efficient and effective,” stressed Julie Breteau, admissions manager. , project manager for “quality approach to user relations.” In order to acculturate services and create business user relationships for everyone, the local authority called in an improvisation company. the reception officers also played a game so that their colleagues would know the role of each person.

“We create a network of‘ receiving ’referents and regularly organize meetings with departments to get to know each other and learn about their missions”, added Julie Breteau. The reception team itself creates and feeds its knowledge base, which consists of nearly 500 sheets of information. “A good relationship with users goes through the promotion of employees. I involve them in projects to change function, to meet user expectations and continue to improve our practices”, explains Julie Breteau .

Contact: Julie Breteau,

The quality of citizen relations has certifications

If the user response process needs to be framed and formal, it is also important to provide reception staff room for manipulation so that they can adjust their response to situations that arise.The main standard for certification of the quality of relations among citizens, “Qualivilles” aims to satisfy users, optimize services and improve the knowledge of agents. It consists of service commitments intended to establish a quality management policy related to the reception, information, orientation and responses to be provided by users. This certification is flexible with a mandatory base (information and orientation, organization of services, respect for commitments) and optional themes. The certification of “Reception service public loca”, which is more specifically related to physical and telephone reception, mail management or online services, relates to commitments related to access to services, in a respectful and efficient reception and permanent listening to suggestions for improvement.

“You have to think about the skills and tools you need”

“To improve acceptance, you first need to set goals – do you want to provide more information, make people wait less, have a higher satisfaction rate… – based on the needs of the population. In a rural areas, we may seek to strengthen support.In an urban territory, this can be a reaction, explained Clémence Patin, consultant, auditor and quality trainer.It should also start from professional practices. Most of the time, we approach acceptance alone, forgetting that the main expectation of users is healing.Hospitals are just the tip of the iceberg.You have to think about the whole organization, the tools and the skills that you need, taking a “user travel” approach. This course is much more complicated. From there, we can see how to simplify the user’s life. Receiving agents need information on resource persons, procedures and internal processes. Direct links must be established in the operating services. The problem is always that hospitality is not seen as a shared function. A good reception officer is the most knowledgeable about the community. »

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