This article is an excerpt from GovLoop’s guide, “Government’s Customer Experience Playbook.” Download the full guide here.
Tara Campbell remembers when customer service was an issue for the city. “People felt like City Hall wasn’t working with them. It was almost working against them,” said Campbell, who serves as Mayor of Yorba Linda, California. “A big thing for us is making sure that we have a better reputation now, working to make sure we’re a business-friendly city.”
That meant ensuring that businesses undergoing the permitting process had a good experience with the city. News travels quickly when they don’t, so Campbell focused on building the city’s reputation for providing stellar CX.
When Campbell became Mayor in 2018, one of her priorities was revamping the city’s website. “You couldn’t find anything on our city website, and the problem with that is a normal customer or resident doesn’t know what department to go to for their concern or need,” she said.
She envisioned a website that was easy to navigate, accessible and mobile-friendly. “Over 60 percent of people access the internet from their phone, and so if we’re going to be accessible to our customers and provide them with that greater experience, we better be going and providing a platform where they’re already going,” Campbell said.
The new website launched in March 2018 and includes a Google-like search function so that residents don’t have to waste time looking through different departments to find what they need. As part of that website overhaul, the city also developed a Citizen Request Tracker.
Let’s say a resident sees a broken swing at a park. They can take a picture of the swing and upload it to the tracker from their phone. That photo will be geo-tagged so city workers know where it’s located. Residents can also opt to receive notifications about the status of a project.
Campbell highlighted one example in which a resident reported a streetlight using the tracker, and within 24 hours, city workers fixed it and notified her that the issue was resolved. “Sadly, we just don’t have the staff there that are out in our city 24/7 monitoring everything, and so our residents are our eyes and ears that are out there all the time,” Campbell said.
She also shared best practices for how her staff tackled each of the core CX functions:
Measurement: The city is working with its department heads to establish solid metrics and gauge the effectiveness of the new website. Among the metrics Campbell plans to track are how many residents submitted issues or concerns via the website and Citizen Request Tracker, and how many of those issues were resolved. If the issue wasn’t resolved, why not? Campbell also wants to know how many residents reported problems through other means, such as contacting a city employee or council member.
Governance and Strategy: When the city redesigned its website and developed the Citizen Request Tracker, all department heads were involved. “Whether you’re dealing with businesses — maybe it’s business license issues vs. paving of streets vs. park maintenance — we brought all of them in because they’re the experts on knowing how we solve those situations,” Campbell said.
Culture and Organization: “We very much empower … our department heads,” Campbell said. That approach has proven effective for developing creative solutions to CX and services. It also helps that CX is a top priority for the city manager and City Council, and department heads are well aware of that. CX is about more than words but showing what you stand for through actions.
Customer Understanding: The city is working to create new journey maps to understand the full experience customers have when requesting services or reporting an issue. “One thing we realized is, sometimes it is an interagency issue,” Campbell said. For example, maybe a request went to the Parks and Recreation Department, but Public Works also needs to get involved. Or maybe the request got lost while being transferred to another department. Having a complete view of the customer journey will help address these issues.
Service Design: The goal is to ensure that the city is doing what’s best for its residents in terms of functionality and ease of use. A key part of that was making the city’s website mobile-friendly because most residents use mobile devices. Yorba Linda is also considering how to expand its reach on social media to deliver information in a format that’s conducive to the public’s needs.
To learn more about CX in government and the core function, download the full guide here.