Philly Bureaucracy Is Puttin' on the Ritz

L&I workers get hospitality tips from famed hotelier

Anyone who's ever found themselves entangled in the horrific tentacles of red tape that is the Philadelphia Department of Licenses and Inspections knows the agency is not famed for its warm and friendly customer service.

"One of the criticisms we've heard is customers are made to feel like they are the problem when they come into L&I," department commissioner Frances Burns told the Philadelphia Inquirer.

In a town where Santa got pelted with snowballs, the mayor bombed the projects and Mike Schmidt got booed, this hardly comes as a surprise. But that's no reason to not try and put a kinder, gentler face on the city agency that Mayor Michael Nutter once threatened to "blow up."

To that end, Burns has secured the services of the folks at the Ritz-Carlton.

Elizabeth Mullins, a vice president and area general manager of the hotel company, has been giving two-hour seminars on the finer points of "serving ladies and gentlemen."

"When someone comes to your organization, do you respect their time?" Mullins asked attendees. "Ask yourself: Are you a customer's company?"  

Whether this type of training will help remains to be seen, but Burns' other initiatives have cut the average wait time for a license from 82 minutes to 49 minutes since February 2008.

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