Cynthia Schweers Named Director of Citizen Engagement
Palm Coast - Enthusiastic. Innovative. Inspirational. Empathetic. Driven. Appreciative. Honest. Motivational. A go-getter.
These are the words Cynthia Schweers' coworkers and previous boss use to describe her. And they could've gone on.
From day one with the city, Cynthia was eager to start a career that focused on helping people and giving back to her community. She embodies all of the qualities of a people-person and enjoys interacting with residents every day to help them resolve issues or even lower their utility bills. Throughout the years, her resume speaks to her character and abilities.
Cynthia joined the city of Palm Coast in 2004 at 21 years old as a Customer Service Rep 1, which was entry level. At the time, the city had just taken over utility billing and customer service from private utility company, Florida Water Services. Customer service and billing was one department of eight people, including a supervisor. While this was a new venture for the city, it was also a new journey for Cynthia. Fast forward to today and she manages a team of more than 20 who work in multiple areas within city departments in such as stormwater, public works, solid waste, and utility and oversees the solid waste contract, including monitoring fines and communicating with the solid waste company management.
"I've worked with Cynthia for over 15 years, starting way back when she was a Customer Service Rep I working the front desk at the utility office," said Richard Adams, longtime Utility Director for the city of Palm Coast. "She has tremendous drive, always wanting to grow, learn more and improve processes and, at the risk of sounding cliché, she's able to think outside the box. As she worked her way up she has brought her staff with her, mentoring, training and nurturing. Today, as a direct result of her dedication the Customer Service Division, provides the highest level of service to the residents of Palm Coast."
That level of service comes natural to Cynthia because of who she is at heart. She can recall one of her most memorable customers. The year was 2007. She was a Customer Service Rep II, having been promoted once since coming on board. A resident came in to customer service crying because her water had been turned off. This resident didn't know what to do. Her husband had just passed away, he managed all of the bills and she had no family to help. She didn't even know how to write a check. So Cynthia brought this woman into her office and spent an hour with her getting her service back up and running, showing her how to use auto-pay and providing additional resources to her. Cynthia went that extra mile to make sure this woman felt the city could be there for her.
And it's that kind of spirit that has carried on and become the foundation for top tier customer service from the city of Palm Coast.
Four promotions later, Cynthia is now the Director of Citizen Engagement, having been promoted recently from Customer Service Manager.
"I'm thrilled to have been selected for this new opportunity to grow with the city," Cynthia said. "This role not only increases our engagement with the community, but also embraces technology to advance our customer service operations to the next level. It will be exciting to see the results of what our talented team will be able to accomplish as we progress to the future."
Most recently, technology has added a layer to the customer service role and experience. In June, the city's new customer engagement platform, Palm Coast Connect, launched and elevated how we communicate with residents to a more sophisticated level that allows the community to reach us any time, any place about a concern or question they may have. The customer service team, led by Cynthia, communicates with the resident every step of the way in providing them with answers or solutions. The platform then delivers real-time data to the city for managers to allocate resources more efficiently and operate more effectively going forward.
As the Director of Citizen Engagement, Cynthia will promote customer service across city departments; continue to grow Palm Coast Connect by ensuring high standards and evaluating measurements; boost morale through employee recognition; and revise the customer service mission to reflect the team's commitment to the community.
Along with the additional technology upgrades, the department will still be a phone call away, providing a way for all residents to reach us, at their preference. And even though Cynthia is managing all of it - the phone calls, the in-person visits, the customer engagement platform, the planning for the next wave of technology - she's a strong believer in teamwork. With the help of her team, they are gearing up for the next chapter. And Cynthia will help in any way she can - even in the trenches where it all started.
"As long as I've been here in Palm Coast, I've been impressed with Cynthia and her team's commitment to a people-first Customer Service mindset," said City Manager Matthew Morton. "Our goal is to expand the processes that have made her and her team successful, standardizing customer service across all elements of the city to ensure everything we do is scalable, repeatable, responsive and driven by data."
Over the years, challenges have been doled out to Cynthia. She's succeeded because of her passion for her work and to the community. The next phase of Palm Coast Connect is in development, transforming and streamlining the way city crews respond and communicate with residents on utility issues. Cynthia will lead that transition to the future for the city with what's called 'field service lightning,' automating work orders using GPS capabilities and some other additional features.
Starting in January, there will be a focus on analytics. She will review response times of all city departments to see where improvements can be made. These would be changes for the betterment of the resident and the city, making your quality of life better through technology.
Cynthia holds a Bachelor of Science in Public Administration from Flagler College and is married with two sons. She is based at City Hall.
Hanging in her office is a painted wood sign that says, "Life isn't about finding yourself, it's about creating yourself." And you might say that's what she's done. From the beginning of her career with the city, it's always been about the customer - the resident - the reason we are here as public servants. And her connection to them has shaped her into the director and leader she is today.