Customer Service in Adult Protective Services
Adult Protective Services assists vulnerable adults who are unable to meet their own needs or who are reported to be suffering from maltreatment. The vulnerable adult is our client, and we respect his or her right to self-determination. Our intervention and service planning are client-centered. We remain sensitive to the client’s perception of his or her situation and needs.
Excellent customer service skills are crucial in Adult Protective Services where clients have often experienced traumatic events. It is important that APS specialists treat our clients compassionately and professionally. As we work with clients and their support systems, we must remember:
- Clients are not an interruption of our work. They are the purpose of it.
- Clients are not doing us a favor when they call. We are not doing them a favor by serving them.
- Clients are not cold statistics. They are human beings with feelings and needs like our own.
- Clients are not people to argue or match wits with.
Attitude is defined as a way of thinking or feeling about someone or something, and it is typically reflected in a person’s behavior. How you present yourself to others and how you view the world is always a matter of choice. The issues of customer service and attitude are intertwined. Good attitudes foster good customer service. Exceptional attitudes result in exceptional customer service.
Attitude Improvement & Customer Service Pointers
Maintaining a positive attitude is an ongoing practice. We all experience times when we need to make changes in our attitude about something or someone. If you’re going to improve your attitude, you must first acknowledge that improvement is not only necessary, but possible. Without those two elements, change cannot occur. The following suggestions may help you.
Avoid negative people.
Although you may not always be able to avoid them, you can be aware of them and handle yourself accordingly.
Eliminate negative surroundings.
Start with your work area and cubicle. Do the items you display reflect a positive attitude? If not change them. Surround yourself with positive feedback whenever possible.
Be responsive to others.
his applies to clients, co-workers, and your family.
If you say you’re going to do something, do it. Do it when you said you would do it.
Place your client’s needs first. Doing so means you have to learn to do your job efficiently and correctly.
Your role is not to feel sorry for your clients. They need your help and your understanding. They need you to care about what happens to them and to offer services that will assist them.
If you make a mistake, admit it, apologize for it, correct it, and move on. Avoid the “blame game.”
Many problems can be avoided or solved simply by listening to what your client has to say. Solutions often suggest themselves.
Arguing will heighten their resistance. Give explanations, and offer reassurance.
Use time effectively.
When you’re working with a client, whether on the phone or in the field, work exclusively with that client. Put other concerns out of your mind. Stay focused. Your client will sense this and interpret it as a sincere desire to help.
Be professional when asking questions.
Asking personal questions is a necessary component of Adult Protective Services. If we are not careful, we may forget how these questions delve into the personal lives of those we help. Client will not always understand why we are there or why we need some information. Always explain confidentiality and how the information will be used.
Don’t get caught up in your client’s anger, even if it’s directed at you. It will only make things worse. Explain the appeals process. Get your supervisor involved if necessary.
Explain what you can and cannot do.
We’re bound by policies, procedures, and law. It is important that you know the limitations and explain them to the client. Sometimes the services the client needs are not available or the client is not eligible for services. It’s vital that you know what resources are available in the community.
Establish a plan with the client.
Develop a plan that ensures the efficient and effective delivery of services and benefits. Make certain everyone involved in the plan understands their individual responsibilities. Be flexible as circumstances often change and service plans may need to be revised.
Once a plan has been developed, carry it out as soon as possible. This builds credibility with your client, and it helps you maintain your current caseload.
The APS specialist, in consultation with the APS specialist IV or designee, is responsible for determining what follow-up is needed in each case. For reports that result in a client receiving involuntary services, DHS is responsible for ensuring basic needs for safety and security are met as required by the court. The APS specialist monitors the delivery of court-ordered protective services and continues to assess the need for additional services determined by the vulnerable adult’s changing needs.