City hall is a big place. Even the smallest municipalities are going to have multiple members of staff who are interacting with the public. If there is no process in place to keep track of resident interactions, then there is a significant chance that important things can get lost in the shuffle of everyday work. Even if you do have a process in place. Every time an employee is expected to perform a step manually there is an opportunity for something to get lost or forgotten about.
Important legal documents, conversations, and multiple reports on the same issue are all examples of things that can be lost, or forgotten about. You need a communication solution that is centralized, real time, and easy to use and access. Mistakes lead to legal issues, unhappy staff members, and decreased trust from citizens.
To be clear, although giving citizens an avenue to report on issues is an important aspect of communication, it is not the only aspect. Communication among the employees of a municipality is also very important. If there is a disconnect between employees then information is not going to be properly shared. Imagine one member of staff receives a document from a citizen, and other employees are not aware of this exchange. That citizen will have a difficult time following up with someone else in the future.
Continuing, we will outline the most important aspects of a functioning citizen engagement software system. Also, we will demonstrate how this helps your municipality strengthen trust with its residents and enable staff to do the best work possible.
Having a centralized system is the most important step in creating an effective process of communication. A filing cabinet in an office is not a centralized system. Neither is a bunch of sticky notes stuck to the monitor of the front desk computer.
A centralized system means that any information you put in is accessible by everyone else. No extra steps are required. If a resident calls in with a complaint on Monday and talks to one employee, then calls back later to check up on the progress of the issue, a centralized system enables any employee helping that customer to see the complaint. Employee and citizen can also see the progress of resolving that issue.
The importance of having a centralized citizen engagement software should be immediately clear. You’re not always going to have the same member of staff interacting with the same citizen every time. People get sick, change jobs, or have days off. Even if it is the same staff member each time, some issues are in progress for months. Having to rely on an employee’s memory is not a fair expectation to put upon them. However, if everything is immediately put into a system, and accessible by everyone else, it doesn’t matter which employee is helping. It doesn’t even matter when or how long since the last interaction. All the relevant information will be ready and accurate.
Ensuring a centralized solution for your municipality will be the most effective step to gain the trust of your residents. Nothing builds confidence more strongly than someone asking questions about an issue they brought up weeks ago and receiving clear answers from someone who understands exactly what issue was brought forward initially.
Real Time Data
So, you’ve adopted a centralized system, now it’s time to look at the efficiency of your communication. Centralization improves the accuracy, and quality, of your communication, both internally and externally. Meanwhile, having a real time system improves the timeliness of your communication.
Having a delay in the issue request process can cause frustration with employees, as well as the citizen who is making the complaint. Hearing that someone won’t even be responding to your issue for 72 hours will lead to irritation. This can trickle down to your staff, who need to field more in-person complaints about their issues not being taken seriously.
Not to mention field staff not even being aware of any new issues until they get back to the office. That journey from the field, back to the office, is multiple missed opportunities to perform more tasks and communicate with admin staff.
A real time system will take the service your municipality can offer to the next level. A resident makes a complaint and it will be immediately viewable, and accessible, by field staff and administrators. The issue will then be delegated to the proper member of staff, often automatically, and the task is completed. Upon completion, the resident who made the complaint will instantly be notified of the success.
This quick level of response builds powerful trust with residents. It also encourages them to continue to communicate directly with their municipality. Increasing resident’s desire to build a relationship with their municipality will improve their quality of life. Meanwhile, elected officials and decision makers have confidence that they understand what their constituents want.
Ease of Use
The last step of an effective solution for your municipality is to find something that can be easy to use. You can spend as much money as you want, and find the greatest solution in the world. If your staff and residents can’t (or won’t) use it, then it’s going to be a waste of money 100% of the time. Having a system that is easy to use, with an intuitive UI, will help get everyone on board with adopting this new solution.
Why you need citizen engagement software
To wrap things up, effectively communicating within your departments, as well as with the community at large, is one of the most important things you can do for your municipality. When communication falls apart, important things get missed. The fallout from that can cost a lot. More than just money, it costs the trust of your citizens.
AccessE11 is a centralized, real-time citizen engagement software that checks the necessary boxes and is designed specifically for small to medium municipalities. A lot of effort is spent on the design of the software. We ensure that anybody can use it at any level of technical knowledge. Ditch the sticky notes and the filing cabinets, and adopt a communication solution for your municipality that helps staff and citizens. Improve trust and satisfaction within your community today.