Applicants Are Customers - Perspectives from Both Sides of the Counter

APA Indiana Chapter


Friday, October 7, 2016
1:45 p.m. - 3 p.m. EDT

CM | 1.25

Add to My Log


This session will discuss how to focus on applicants as customers, and ways to increase or improve customer service in a planning department setting.  The speakers will discuss several topics from their professional experience as both planning department managers and planning applicants for development clients.

The speakers will discuss the importance of matching customer expectations and partnering in project success. The speakers will highlight how the current paradigm of the typical planning and zoning office does not meet the expectations of the modern customer, and will discuss what techniques can be adopted to bring in projects through the entitlement process that maximize productivity and minimize time lines.  Using the multiple perspectives of the speakers and engaging with the session participants, the program intends to help identify and illuminate customer service issues and provide opportunities to improve customer service.  The session is intended to provide a lively and productive debate on the topic of customer service.

Eleven (11) must have customer service themes to be discussed include the following:

1. Semantics - Customer, a simple word defines the relationship and interaction between all parties. 

2. Partnership - Become a partner in the process - realize that you and your department hold the keys to investment in your community.  

3. Vision - Have a clear vision on behalf of your community and provide positive direction to the customer.  

4. Expectations - Define and relay expectations from the outset. 

5. Urgency - Treat all customers with a sense of urgency to provide customer service excellence through the entire process. 

6. Feedback - Provide meaningful feedback and give clear direction without designing and critiquing the product itself.  

7. Commitment - Be committed to your customer.  Regardless of the scope meet anytime, but be productive.

8. Honesty - Be honest and straightforward with the customer about what can and cannot be obtained.

9. Transparency - make decisions and communications as transparent as possible

10. Facilitate - Encourage and facilitate pre-application meetings to help customers gather and understand the development regulations, review procedures, and time lines at the outset of a project.

11. Outreach - Extend traditional boundaries by establishing a method to obtain interdisciplinary and inter-agency input to avoid the impacts of undiscovered project constraints.


Jonathan Wocher, AICP

Confirmed Speaker

Jonathan Wocher is a Principal with McBride Dale Clarion in Cincinnati. Mr. Wocher is a certified planner with the American Institute of Certified Planners (AICP), and has been a professional planner since 1993. He has extensive experience working for both public and private sector clients on a variety of projects ... Read More

James Noyes

Confirmed Speaker

James is the Assistant Director of the Hamilton County Planning + Development Department. His position focuses on ways to continually improve the overall building and development process with attention to both operational and customer service improvements. His experience also includes over 15 years in a private residential land development company working ... Read More