City Re-Emphasizes Commitment to Excellent Customer Service

Published on January 18, 2023

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Recently, one of our departments became the subject of a “First Amendment Audit.” This phenomenon has been happening more frequently around the country and in our neighboring cities. The purpose of these audits is to test governmental respect for individuals’ First Amendment rights. A citizen conducting a First Amendment Audit will typically approach a public employee without identifying himself or herself and create a video of the resulting interaction.

City of Eustis employees are dedicated professionals that work hard every day to support the needs of our residents, businesses, and visitors. When engaging the public, it is the City’s goal that they always conduct themselves in a courteous, respectful, helpful and professional manner. City employees are aware that their interactions with the public shape opinions about their work performance, and the City’s commitment to public service. Sometimes, however, a member of the public may not have the positive experience with an employee that they deserve. When that is the case, City Leaders immediately address the situation. That is precisely what we have done subsequent to the incident recounted above.

While we are focused on delivering the best customer service possible, that goal must be balanced with regard for the safety of City employees. We are currently working with our attorney and department heads on taking the necessary steps to ensure we clearly designate non-public areas and those where a reasonable expectation of privacy exists, as well as, establishing protocols and determining all options related to these interactions.

The City of Eustis has built a strong reputation for delivering excellent customer service, and we take any exceptions to that expectation very seriously. Whether it is the First Amendment Auditors or a client requiring customer service, we are committed to ensuring that our employees understand and uphold the highest standards of professionalism and respect while adhering to all protocols, laws, regulations, and policies. Those employees who acted in a manner that is inconsistent with Administration’s expectations will receive counseling, training, and/or retraining on how to improve customer service by:

• Being courteous, patient, and respectful to all visitors

• Tuning out distractions and staying focused on work

• Knowing what to do if disruptive behavior by a visitor persists and/or escalates

• Discerning what is considered inappropriate behavior for visitors to City offices

• Learning how to articulate what areas are open to visitors and which are not

• Understanding when it is necessary to reach out to a supervisor

The attached four-page memo from City Manager Tom Carrino to all City employees(PDF, 185KB) explains who the First Amendment Auditors are and shares guidelines on how City employees should accommodate their visits. It also lists the limitations the groups must respect and the protocols they are expected to follow.