“We’re going to hold ourselves to a high standard,” County Administrator Al Vanderberg said.
The initiative began last year as the economy began to emerge from the Great Recession, and county officials wondered how they could take themselves to the next level of performance.
“Ottawa County isn’t a single organizational structure like a city,” Vanderberg explained. “Ottawa County is basically a collection of 33 departments, offices, agencies and courts that have different authority levels.”
The one thing that keeps everyone together, he said, is the budget.
“What could we do to have everyone have the same vision and code of conduct?” Vanderberg posed.
The initiative seeks to change a single budgetary link and get everyone on the same page, he said.
“Our vision is (that) we think our citizens of Ottawa County want good service,” Vanderberg said. “They know when someone has treated someone with respect.”
Along with customer service, officials will also implement cultural awareness as part of the initiative. This includes an essay contest on "What is the Ottawa County DNA," as well as documentation of people who are considered “legendary” county leaders.
“It’s really about engaging our employees,” Vanderberg said. “I think the new proposition is (to) come here and be an owner of Ottawa County. ... We aren’t afraid to try new things and make them work. It has been a really great experience.”
As part of the initiative, the county has kicked off a program to acknowledge acts of outstanding customer service. Customers can nominate a county employee for an Outstanding Customer Service Award at miOttawa.org.