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External Relations for Planners
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External Relations for Planners

External Relations for Planners

59 min
Credit: AICP CM

This course is approved for 1 AICP CM credit

More than ever, public service is focusing on customer service. In this course, we will discuss how to work with applicants, residents, and other stakeholders to provide services. Planning often means giving people bad news—not recommending their project for approval or telling them a development next to their home meets zoning standards. Learning to give both good and bad news with respect and tact is a skill planners should learn.

This course teaches customer service concepts, skills, and strategies to reflect well on planning organizations, and also make planners more effective in their work.

In This Course

  1. Jeff Levine introduces the course.
  2. Why Customer Service?
    Who are your customers in a planning office? Why should you care about them? What about when they are wrong?
  3. Customer Service for Planners
    What types of customers do you get? How do you train your office to have a friendly face?
  4. Working With Difficult Situations
    Sometimes it really goes sideways with a customer. How do you right the cart before it tips over?
  5. Representing Your Organization
    You hopefully don’t always stay in the office. You should be at events in the community, or at least at a manager’s meeting inside City Hall!
  6. Relating to Boards
    You likely deal with formal groups that have decision-making power. Relating to them is different than more generally representing your organization in public.
  7. Balancing Freedom of Information with Confidentiality
    If you work in a public office (and even if you don’t), you will have to deal at some point with information requests. These bring legal, logistical, and even sometimes quasi-moral issues that you'll need to prepare for.
  8. Closing Thoughts
    An overview of the key concepts discussed in the course. Remember, your organization’s respect in the community and power structure can be affected by how you represent it in public. There are far worse things than being told that someone hates planning but thinks you are respectful, clear, and professional!
  9. Frequently Asked Questions
    This chapter addresses several big and common questions about external relations for planners.

Published 2017