City of Philadelphia 311 Named 2015 UN Public Service Award Finalist

I am honored and excited that the City of Philadelphia Philly311 Contact Center was named a finalist for the prestigious international 2015 United Nations Public Service Award in the category of “Improving the Delivery of Public Services.”

We have grown so much from our days as a startup organization serving 1.5 million residents, businesses, and visitors. The journey has had its challenges, but every step of the way we have learned something valuable about our operations. Today we have revolutionized the traditional 311 operations through a customer centric model. We are changing the culture of city government to be more collaborative, connected, and welcoming.

Philly311 knows that to deliver impeccable services we must meet our customers where they are. Knowing this, we have modernized our system through a new customer relationship management solution, and have taken large strides in connecting with our customers through social media and visual messaging.

In addition to a wide variety of community engagement initiatives we are very proud of our efforts seen through the 311 Neighborhood Liaison program, which has expanded and doubled within the last few years. Philly311 is also the first in the nation to have a mobile app with dynamic language capabilities accessible in 17 different languages.

Hats off to the leadership that provided guidance through our journey, and the United Nations Committee of Experts in Public Administration. And of course, we can’t go without thanking our customers, partners, vendors, staff, and city administration for their ongoing support. We see your support everyday when you connect with us through social media, on our world-class mobile app, and through our many other platforms.

Thanks for helping us raise the bar in customer experience excellence in government.

Rosetta Carrington Lue is the City of Philadelphia first Chief Customer Service Officer. She is a dynamic leader in the fields of Customer Experience, Contact Center Operations, Social Media, and Community Engagement management in both public and private sectors.

Here We Grow! City of Philadelphia @Philly311 Receives 2015 CRM Excellence Award

Congratulations to the City of Philadelphia Philly311 Contact Center for being awarded the 2015 CRM Excellence Award.

Thanks to the great staff at Philly311 who continues to set the bar for customer service excellence at a high level in local government.

“The 2015 CRM Excellence Award winners have been chosen on the basis of their product or service’s ability to help extend and expand the customer relationship to become all encompassing, covering the entire enterprise and the entire customer lifecycle. Based on hard data, facts and figures, each CRM Excellence Award winner has demonstrated the improvements their products have made in their clients’ businesses.

‘The 2015 CRM Excellence Award winners are industry leaders in CRM products and services who have demonstrated a commitment to their customers and clients. All of the winners have substantially improved the processes of their clients’ businesses by streamlining and facilitating the flow of information needed for companies to retain customers,’ said Rich Tehrani, CEO, TMC (News – Alert).”

View additional information about the award here:  http://cloud-computing.tmcnet.com/news/2015/04/30/8183290.htm

Former 311 Executive Appointed as 1st State of NY Customer Experience Director

I was very excited to learn a NYC311 executive recently landed a critical role to lead the customer experience for the Governor of New York Andrew M. Cuomo. This cabinet level appointment continues to solidify the movement across all levels of government to engage, connect, and continue to improve the customer experience interactions.

Let’s give Saadia a big round of applause. Best wishes and much success in your new role.

As government continues to drive towards becoming customer-centric and collaborative organizations, recruitment of senior leadership with customer experience expertise will be in demand. According to author Jeanne Bliss, the goals of the Customer Experience Officer are to:

Engage the organization in managing customer relationships.
Create a persistent focus on the customer in the actions the company takes.
Drive the organization to work together for optimum customer experience delivery.
Support leaders in their role as cultural leaders in the transformation journey.
I look forward to seeing more cabinet level (C-suite) customer experience leadership appointment announcements in government.

Saadia Chaudhry has been appointed Director of Customer Experience for the Executive Chamber. In this role, she will help drive a range of high-priority projects to improve customer service for citizens and businesses. Previously, she held a number of positions at New York City’s 311 Contact Center, most recently as Customer Strategy Director, overseeing all aspects of customer experience and quality across multi-channel platforms, and, prior, as Contact Center Director and Director of Training & Quality. Ms. Chaudhry has a B.S. from Binghamton University.

Governor Cuomo Announces Administration Appointment
https://www.governor.ny.gov/news/governor-cuomo-announces-administration-appointments-16

NY Governor’s Opportunity Agenda Book (see page 33) http://nysbroadband.ny.gov/sites/default/files/documents/2015_Opportunity_Agenda_Book.pdf

How to Modernize Government Using Open Data Sources

In a previous blog post about modernizing government, I talked about why open data matters, and how it can be a tool of democracy. In today’s post I want to focus on open sources and some of the opposition posed towards open source development models. Open source as a development model, and having open data, is important for local government 3-1-1s because it helps provide more access to municipal information, demonstrates trends in the community, and supports accountability.

It’s not unusual for people to get these two confused, so lets start with some definitions courtesy of (fan favorite) Wikipedia:

Open Data: “Open data is the idea that certain data should be freely available to everyone to use and republish as they wish, without restrictions from copyright, patents or other mechanisms of control.”

Open Source: “In production and development, open source as a development model promotes a universal access via a free license to a product’s design or blueprint, and universal redistribution of that design or blueprint, including subsequent improvements to it by anyone.”

Like providing open data, using an open source digital strategy supports a transparent culture–especially for 3-1-1 systems–but also allows agencies to receive the benefits of an open source process. Govloop, in a documentation that highlights government trends, outlines the importance of open source in government nicely, saying, “Open source development accelerates government’s digital transformation by allowing agencies to reap the benefits of others’ progress. Secondly, it creates a transparent process that can foster public faith in these new initiatives…an open source approach ensures that digital initiatives will be maximally effective because it provides channels for users to report bugs and provide suggestions for improvement.” In summary, open source models allow both internal and external customers the ability to provide real-time feedback, which is valuable to all parties. What this looks like within a 3-1-1 environment, for example, is having the ability to see when a service requested has been received by a department, or having real-time dashboards that show what type of requests are being taken.

Like any model, open source has its critics. However, the primary criticism of open source is more conceptual than anything else, and rests in both theoretical incongruence, when applied to government, and cultural opposition. Ephemeral Journal published a compelling article by Nathaniel Tkacz on this very subject: “From Open Source to Open Government: A critique of open politics.” Tkacz points out that the idea of openness within a political sphere is rarely examined semantically and, in practice, political openness establishes a sensibility amongst citizens without defining limitations.

You can see how this could potentially be problematic for local government, but let’s not disregard our own democratic structure. If we view government as an entity that drives social change through democracy, than we must view the “(re)emergence of ‘the open,’” as Tkacz calls it, as a reflection of the government’s soci-transformative nature. Modernizing government also requires adapting to modern ideas. Promoting universal access is necessary because democracy requires informed citizens. The goal of any 3-1-1 is to serve the customer, and to provide them with tools that empower them. Open data is a tool that empowers citizens. In this way, an open source approach is both necessary and important for 3-1-1, and should be a priority for all branches of government.

Creating a Connected City in Today’s Ever-Evolving World

Argyle Executive Forum Journal article. Published: APRIL 1, 2015

Rosetta Lue, Chief Customer Service Officer & 311 Contact Center Operations Director, City of Philadelphia sat down with Argyle to discuss the in’s and out’s of running customer service for a city.

In today’s society, how do you create a connected city?

There are multiple levels to creating a truly connected city. We are working through public private partnerships to leverage technology and all available resources to make our services innovative, accessible, more efficient, and adaptable based on customer needs.

Another element of a connected city is that city departments can talk to each other easily and effectively to provide high quality service to our citizens. In our newly upgraded Customer Relationship Management solution, City agencies are better able to work together, with real-time information updates, creating more accountability and increasing the completion rate of service requests and customer satisfaction.

How have you expanded customer service into the community?

The design of our digital service platform is entirely based on our customers. In order to improve customer service in the City of Philadelphia we identify and engage with our target audience, establish a strategic plan, listen to the community’s feedback, and adjust our process accordingly.

In the same spirit, we have community engagement programs that operate in the community, like the Neighborhood Liaison Program. The Neighborhood Liaison Program, a community empowerment program within Philly311, we are able to encourage citizens to utilize 311’s services while educating them on how to get the most out of our system they in turn share that information with their neighbors, family and friends. With this program, we can connect influencers with each other through trainings and workshops. The Neighborhood Liaison program empowers citizens with tools to interact with their government and get problems resolved.

“We are working through public private partnerships to leverage technology and all available resources to make our services innovative, accessible, more efficient, and adaptable based on customer needs.”
When it comes to customer service initiatives, why it is important to have them?

In city government, we understand that the citizen is our customer, and using those terms as synonyms, have reoriented our overall framework. The citizens’ customer experience expands beyond providing city services, it is about how they feel from the time they submit a request to the time that request has been completed.

Customer experience is frequently lumped in with customer service; (though it is the foundation of it) customer experience is the long game. Customer experience is the total experience, and every interaction the customer has with the supplier. As a city contact center, customer experience becomes all encompassing. The citizen’s experience often goes hand in hand with their experience with all city services and not just the call center itself. Every improvement we make for our customer affects their quality of life.

What are important things to consider when building partnerships?

Especially with the implementation of the new customer management system, our partners have played a significant role in helping us move towards our goals this year. Government has limited resources, which is why partnerships are so important. When working with external organizations it is important to keep in mind that organizations mission and goals and make sure it aligns with our own. We try to identify and respond to the needs of the groups we work with and value its input in planning and decision-making.

For both partners and customers, we focus on transparency, efficiency and effectiveness – a top priority of Mayor Nutter and his administration. It is an important aspect of why we want to provide the highest quality customer experience possible.

“Customer experience is frequently lumped in with customer service; (though it is the foundation of it) customer experience is the long game. “
How has the government effectively used social media in emergencies?

Every day we at Philly 311 have a duty to provide citizens with factual information and critical answers about City services, but when the City is facing a crisis, the importance of that information is magnified. Citizens look to the City for guidance, and we provide it. One of the most efficient ways to do this is through our social media channels.

One example is snow emergencies. During major snow events the contact center often remains open 24-7 to handle in high call volume. 311 uses social media to answer frequently asked questions, providing citizens with relevant information before they ask for it. We know the information citizens need during these types of emergencies, for example, we have seen from experience that they want to know about parking, street cleaning, and trash collection. This information is easy to share on our social media, and through our social media working groups we are able to multiply the potential audience reached with this information by coordinating strategic and intentional messages so citizens know how to react in these situations without submitting information requests.

Hurricane Sandy is another example of an emergency situation that we were able to respond to effectively. In Philadelphia during Hurricane Sandy, public transportation was shut down, Philadelphia International airport suspended flights, and all major highways were closed. At Philly311, we had a plan ahead of time. Working with city departments, such as the Office of Emergency Management, we were able to collect data and stay up-to-date on the progress of the storm. We established a strategy ahead of time and were prepared to deliver accurate information through multiple channels, including our social media accounts.

Do you have any last thoughts that you would like to share?

One of our goals is to reach and engage our citizens on channels they are comfortable using. The Philly311 app makes our services more accessible to diverse audiences. Research by the PEW Foundation and others, suggests that many low income citizens do not have internet access in their home but do have internet on their smart phones. We want everyone to be able to use 311, which is why we have so many channels, including the call-in and walk-in centers for more tradition communications. We also provide language services in 17 different languages on the app, which increases accessibility. We want to make sure that all citizens have positive and productive interactions with local government.

What is your organization doing to create connected customers in today’s ever evolving world? I would love to hear your feedback on this topic.

Return on Investment (ROI) Model in Government – Does It Really Exists? Maybe…

The question of how government can track the success of profitless projects comes into question on a regular basis. It is easy to follow a dollar. Money leaves tracks, but how does local government leverage private practice metrics to better inform future projects and practices?

Non-profits use a different measure of value to reflect a more impact-centric formula to measuring ROI. Monetizable outcome and value have taken command of the popular imagination, yet motivation, beliefs, and ethical practice are equally important, and have defined value in the public sector. Regardless, the bottom line is investment creates more investment.

According to a 2008 report from the ROI Institute, and comprehensive measurement and evaluation process data from over 200 organizations, “Global trends in measurement and evaluation” indicate “increased focus is driven by clients and sponsors,” and “ROI is the fastest growing metric.” These two factors demonstrate that increased focus for an organization is directly impacted by the return. Impact can easily be interchanged with the public sector’s definition of value.

The relationship between return, and exterior financial support, points to an across the board paradigm shift between all sectors. Activity is no longer sufficient evidence to justify activity. Activity–whether it is a program, a project, an initiative, or the creation of a product–must be result based. In this there is a need to abandon ambiguous performance measurements, forge more social partnerships, and use efficient CRM systems that capture data. With this paradigm shift, we see government adapting to result based processes.

Dr. Jack Phillips and Patricia Pulliam Phillips note in their review, “Using ROI to Demonstrate HR Value in the Public Sector: A Review of Best Practices,” that ROI methodology is currently being used in the public sector in a multitude of ways by entities like the USA Veterans Administration, Australian Department of Defense, and U.S federal government agency. These entities are using ROI to “demonstrate program success and impact of training on educational programs,” “measure the impact of a new human resources information systems,” and to “measure the cost benefit of a master’s degree program conducted on site by a prestigious government.”

The emphasis on managing data isn’t simply a sporadic interest in government, or a trend that the public sector is suddenly jumping on board with. From a federal level the 2002 President’s Management Agenda (PMA) pinpointed five government wide goals that have influenced this contemporary line of thinking. The goals speak to the need for strategic management of human capital, competitive sourcing, improved financial performance, expanded e-government, and budget and performance integration. The PMA’s goals indicate a need to find a comprehensive formula for combining ROI metrics and analytics that support social impact, program evaluation, and quantitative data to measure both a monetary and a non-monetary return. The outcome of finding this formula would result in more than just saving a few bucks, and could potentially result in productivity and quality increases.

In an earlier document from the ROI Institute, Dr. Phillips provides an example of what this would look like:

“In a government setting, cost savings measures are available from every work group. For example, if a government agency implements a program to improve forms processing–a productivity measure is number of forms processed; the quality measure is the error rate on processing forms; a time measure is the time it takes to process the forms; and a cost measure is the cost of processing forms on a per-unit basis. Improvements in work unit performance in a government setting have many opportunities for program benefits that can be converted to monetary value.”

One of the ways that the Third Sector Organization (TSO), in the United Kingdom, has attempted to qualify social value of their sector is through developing a methodology: Social Return on Investment (SROI). The goal of SROI is to translate social, economic, and environmental benefits into monetary value. Yet the SROI isn’t necessarily applicable to individual programs and initiatives, and still prioritizes financial measurements over, say, what a social audit would result in: qualitative information combined with financial data that informs internal performance.

Ultimately, even with the strides that the TSO has made, there is still a global gap in knowledge when it comes to gauging impact on smaller scale profit-less items. A 2013, working paper from the Tellurid Science Research Center concluded on a similar note, stating:

“There is an extensive body of grey literature on impact measurement practice, however this has tended to be small-scale and boosterist in nature. The field has also suffered from a lack of theorisation of key concepts and critical appraisal of previous research, with a few exceptions. A number of studies are emerging which attempt to address this theoretical and empirical gap, but in general empirical research on impact measurement practice in the UK third sector, particularly which organizations and subsectors are undertaking impact measurement and the practices and tools they are using, is limited.”

Though there are limitations, the potential remains there for the public sector to find an all encompassing return on investment model, however no formula or practice standard exists at the moment. BUT there is still hope!

How are you measuring the ROI or SROI in the public sector? I would love to hear your feedback and suggestions.

Day in the Life of 311 Director Rosetta Carrington Lue

Dr. Stephen Covey, in his prequel to the “7 Habits of Highly Effective People,” “The 8th Habit: From Effectiveness to Greatness,” outlines the four steps to finding your voice:

1.What are you good at?

2.What do you love doing?

3.What need can you serve?

4. And finally, what is life asking of you?

For me, the answers to these questions overlapped, and lead to my current position as the Chief Customer Service Officer of the City of Philadelphia. Check out my “Day in the Life” episode, created by Philly311 TV, and learn about how I found my voice.

“Day In the Life” series is a way to show our constituents the human side of government. By highlighting the day to day of government workers, “Day in the Life” series transparently, and artfully, demonstrates individuals connection to the communities they serve.

City of Philadelphia & a Local Tech Startup Commonality? Great Customer Service!

In the past, the City of Philadelphia’s Philly311 TV has focused on the inside of City government; interviewing City employees and officials from behind the scenes. However, in an effort to depart from the traditional idea of customer service excellence in government, I am looking outside of City government for efficient strategies. With this in mind, I have divided the third season into two parts, and have included a customer service series where I can highlight citizens of Philadelphia who excel at customer service excellence.

In this first episode the City of Philadelphia’s Philly311 TV, the team met Jason Rappaport (CEO) and Raheem Ghouse (CFO) of Squareknot. For Squareknot–a local Philadelphia start-up that creates step-by-step guides–the customer experience determines whether or not their product is utilized. Check out the episode to learn more about Squareknot and how private and public sectors are collaborating and sharing practices to better engage customers.

Are you interested in being in one of our Customer Service Excellence episodes? Please contact me or Amanda Wagner, Philly311 TV Executive Director at amanda.v.wagner@phila.gov.

What Can You Learn From Government Customer Service?

government

Many of us are acutely aware of the quality of customer service in the private sector, whether it’s in retail or B2B. However, one area that people often don’t think of themselves as customers is in their relationship with local government. Yet that is exactly what we are.

“Customers’ experience in government should be the same or even better than what they’re getting in the private sector,” says Rosetta Carrington Lue, chief customer service officer for the city of Philadelphia. “We shouldn’t treat them any differently because they’re dealing with a government entity.”

Lue says the relationship is actually deeper than in the private sector because these customers are more invested over a longer period of time — they own homes in the community and work and send their kids to school there. This presents a challenge, however, as it’s not easy for customers who don’t like the service they’re getting to “switch” to another provider (at least, not without moving out of town). Historically, government agencies have moved slowly in addressing customer service. “There was no urgency to get the ball moving when it came to making customer experience better,” says Lue.

Digital Age Holds Governments Accountable

The digital age is helping local governments improve. For one, new tools hold bureaucrats accountable. Like any business, the government has a brand to protect — with the goal of creating a happy community viewed as an attractive place to live. But one negative tweet could harm a city’s image.

“Back in the day when you had a complaint it would just stay within that community or department or person,” says Lue. “Now that same complaint can be spread internationally. Many public sector entities are seeing that they have to change. They have to be proactive when it comes to connecting with their customers.”

Social media has been instrumental in improving government customer service, especially for important announcements during emergencies. The key now is for local governments to have a presence on multiple channels. (The city of Philadelphia is on Twitter, Facebook, YouTube, Instagram, and has a mobile app.) This not only helps officials reach a greater number of people, but also allows for better engagement. For example, The Philly311 Show on YouTube introduces citizens to the government employees who deliver the city’s services. Videos also highlight new tools for customer service, such as city-specific apps.

Social Media, Web Forums Coordinate Collaboration

One other area that digital communication makes an impact is in helping governments coordinate customer collaboration. Through social media and Web forums, citizens can now easily find like-minded people to work on projects, such as cleaning alleyways, planting trees in parks, and starting mentorship programs. This method of organizing generates faster and longer lasting results when compared with relying solely on government to make fixes.

“We’re working with communities so they have a vested interest in sustaining those changes,” says Lue. “We’re really targeting folks to come together and help solve a problem.

“The traditional way of governing is changing because customers are demanding that change,” she adds. “The days of one communication channel and 9 to 5 service is gone. We’re seeing that from federal to local government.”

Interview from Real Business Online Magazine dated December 1, 2014 written by Sachin Shenolikar and sponsored Xerox Corporation.

Reference: http://www.realbusiness.com/2014/12/customer-connection/what-can-you-learn-from-government-customer-service