Be Bold: Connect with Customers

Connect with Customers
State Fair, 10/1972. National Archives Identifier 545457

The second of our new strategic goals is to “Connect with Customers.”

Having spent most of my career working with the public, customer service is a passion of mine. In my personal life I am always looking for exemplars—places where I am dazzled by attention to service, places which learn from their customers, places which put their customers at the center of the service equation.

At the National Archives, we connect with customers in a multitude of ways: nationwide, face-to-face, over the phone, across the desk, in our research rooms, in the classroom and of course, online.  We have a wide-variety of customer communities, including educators, historians, genealogists, researchers, veterans and now groups such as civic hackers, Wikipedians and many more. We need to become more agile, more creative in connecting with them – whoever they are, wherever they are, to deliver what they want when they want it.

But connection is not just about delivery, it is about engaging with the public in ways we have not done in the past. Much of the work we have been doing with Open Government has been about connecting with customers in new ways.  In speaking about Open Government, President Obama said, “Our commitment to openness means more than simply informing the American people about how decisions are made.  It means recognizing that Government does not have all the answers, and that public officials need to draw on what citizens know.”

Our initiatives under this goal include integrating our customer service activities to more pro-actively respond to and effectively understand our customer needs. Additionally, we want to expand our use of public participation and crowdsourcing tools to improve access and engagement. We intend to draw on the expertise and energy of our researchers and the public around the world who are willing to work with us on all kinds of projects, from tagging images to transcribing our handwritten records to writing articles based on the treasures we hold in the National Archives.

Stay tuned for goal three: Maximize our Value to the Nation.  Get the full view or our Strategic Plan.



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One Response to Be Bold: Connect with Customers

  1. Phil Stewart says:

    I also think that NARA should do a better job of letting the public know what’s inside. After years of researching the motion picture holdings I decided to that on my own. Maybe books about the film holdings aren’t the best way to connect with the public, it’s better than nothing. Over the last 7 years, I’ve published nine titles and a few articles about the films of WWI, 1930’s aviation, Henry Ford, war films, and the Universal Newsreel of the 1930’s. I can’t claim stupendous sales, but the word is getting out that America’s Film Vault is worth investigating. Please check out my website for more info. Thanks for all your trying to do.


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