Tag Archives: 311

VA Contact Center Modernization Initiative – MyVA311 Launched!

VA Enterprise Contact Center Modernization Initiative

With approximately 272 national VA Contact Centers that receives almost 140 million annual calls and services 9 million Veterans, VA has had no consistent approach to customer service. VA studied the best practices of America’s top customer service organizations to learn how they excel at delighting customers. Based on that information and appointing a Responsible Officer to oversee the VA Secretary’s Contact Center Modernization transformation breakthrough initiative, we create a holistic frontline customer service program to make access to the care and services Veterans have earned predictable, consistent, and easy.

On Veteran’s Day 2016, VA launched the MyVA311 telephone platform: A unified and centralized enterprise wide approach that Veterans can use to easily find information via telephone.

VA introduced 1-844-MyVA311 (1-844-698-2311) as a go-to source for Veterans and their families who don’t know what number to call. This new national toll-free number will help eliminate the feeling of frustration and confusion that Veterans and their families have expressed when navigating the 1000-plus phone numbers that currently exist.

Veteran feedback has been instrumental helping us streamline the way we get callers routed to the right place at VA. With 1-844-MyVA311, Veterans, families, and caregivers can access information about VA services like disability, pension, healthcare eligibility, enrollment, and burial benefits, in addition to a self-service locator to find the nearest VA facility. And if they’re looking for immediate assistance with housing or are having a mental health crisis, MyVA311 will route callers to the Homeless Veteran help line and the Veterans Crisis Line.

VA is also making improvements to the overall Veteran experience eliminating blocked calls, leveraging new or existing call center technologies and hiring more people to reduce wait times and improve Veterans experience. We will continue to gather feedback from our Veterans to ensure VA is meeting their needs. The new MyVA311 phone number is just one step in a larger effort to modernize VA contact centers so Veterans have a seamless, positive experience.

Using Human-Centered Design (HCD) Approach to Improve Your Government Contact Center’s Experience

Every interaction the taxpayer has with the government is a touch point that shapes their impression on the quality of service received based on a positive or negative experience. The contact centers for government are an integrated platform that provides taxpayers and their family members with accurate information about services and information that can provide taxpayers with their desired requests. Rather than government leaders improving solutions that seem accurate to taxpayers, there has been a commitment to creating ideas that better meet taxpayer’s needs by developing processes and tools tailored to their specific needs. To understand the needs of taxpayers, contact center leaders are standardizing the approach by using the human-centered design (HDC) technique. To best serve the taxpayers and create that emotional connection immediately, government leaders must understand the needs of the taxpayers by hearing about the good and bad experiences occurring with every single touch point occurring.

Human-centered design thinkers use a tool called a design artifact (physical model) to aid in communicating, exploring, and defining solutions. Government leaders have created a unique design artifact, the customer journey map, to allow leadership and employees to gain a deeper perspective of what the taxpayer is experiencing and feeling at each stage of their life journey. The results of honing in on the needs of the taxpayers will provide seamless, emotionally connected interactions to events that have been identified (by using HCD), as “moments that matter.” The “moments that matter” are moments that can have a significant impact on the taxpayer’s experience that directly connects to government’s contact centers. Creating that immediate emotional connection with the caller is essential in ensuring the experience is a not only positive but meets the needs of the taxpayer.

Government contact centers have historically struggled with gaining positive taxpayer’s satisfaction due to long wait times, inability to get connected, and inaccurate information all contributing to the lack of trust in government’s ability to care for them. To build confidence, make a connection, and provide accurate information, government leaders must understand thoroughly what makes a taxpayers tick and ensure the communication is clear in the minds of the taxpayers and the service rendered yields a positive experience. When looking through the lens of the human-centered design approach, government leaders can gain insight through direct observation or surveys of what the taxpayer likes or dislikes, what was confusing or what was clear, and figure out how to develop an internal process that can meet their needs. Improving the process, also known as lean management, is a critical output to the problems defined when taking the perspective of taxpayers into consideration.

Welcoming & Innovative Cities Are Creating Digital Strategies to Improve Customer Interactions

The internet changed things to the point where the world cannot even imagine going back in time and possibly living without the convenience afforded by it. Everything and every aspect of our lives was influenced by the internet, shaped and molded by it. And then technology took a step further and beyond.

Usually termed as the internet 2.0, mobile devices have removed the restriction of the internet from being a remote portal on our desktops, to an everyday need within the palm of our hands, and on the tip of our fingers, literally. From online browsing and emails to online transactions and messaging, our social interaction with loved ones and complete strangers has never been more important.

So important, that the governments of various developed states are acknowledging the need for development of a more friendly and interactive experience with their present and potential citizens and business customers. For example, the government of New Zealand is no different and has made a statement of intent to improve the interaction of their government with their citizens and business customers by delivering better public services that are mostly used in a digital environment and providing the completion of transactions online easily and conveniently.

There are many other benefits to be realized other than satisfied citizens and business customers. The recently appointed CEO of the Australian federal government’s Digital Transformation Office (DTO), Paul Shetler, revealed at a “Technology in Government” conference in Canberra, that digital interactions between citizens and government agencies could save costs of up to $20 billion. The figures were cited in a research conducted by Deloitte and could help improve other governments who are cost restrained and would like to improve further digital interaction with their citizens.

Accenture, a global brand, conducted a citizen survey back in 2013, that showed a high correlation between the overall satisfaction experienced with public services and use of digital channels. The design needs to be focused on mobile technology as more than half of the world’s population is connected through their mobile devices.

Many companies have shifted their focus on such initiatives, but by and large the majority has yet to do so. Developing countries that have bigger populations that are connected through their mobile devices, have governments that have yet to realize the potential in developing digital channels for presenting their services.

Rosetta Carrington Lue is the City of Philadelphia first Chief Customer Officer. She is a dynamic leader in the fields of Customer Experience Management, Strategy and Technology, Social Media and Community Engagement in both public and private sectors.

Philly311 Youth Engagement Program – Government Making a Difference

I’m happy to report that we have officially hosted two very successful sessions of our Youth Engagement Program (YEP). On Thursday, July 16, 2015, we launched our first session. The session was dedicated to what Philly311 is and how young people can use it as tool to better their communities. Daniel Ramos, our Community Engagement Coordinator, focused on teaching the students about Philly311’s mobile app. After Daniel’s lesson students were able to take our mobile app into the field and report issues.

Prior to the session we passed around a survey asking students if they were familiar with Philly311 and what they knew about City government. It was important for us to gauge their understanding. What we could learn about what they know is just as important as the information we are teaching. Asking for their input, and what they wanted to learn, will be an asset when we consider future youth programming.

As you can imagine, the responses to our survey questions were all over the board, but for the most part mentioned education, trash collection, and snow removal as City services. Some of the students had no idea what local government did, and wrote on our survey that they would like to know what city government is. The most common response, when we asked what the children would like to learn from this program, was how they can make a difference in their community.

That’s a powerful question: How can I make a difference in my community? The mobile app is one of the many ways anyone can directly influence their surroundings. Using the mobile app, they were able to their report pertinent information about their neighborhood. After our first session, the students submitted a total of 25 service requests. The issue reported the most was graffiti, followed by illegal dumping. It goes to show how educating youth about municipal services can inspire younger citizens.

Yesterday, at the second YEP session, the Police Explorers Cadet Program presented their program to the YEP students. Twelve Cadets and three officers came to Harding Middle School and talked about how the Explores program works to get young people ready for the academy. Through hard work, including 300 hours of community service and 700 hours of training, the Police Explorers program helps prepare young people who want to go into any kind of law enforcement or paramilitary career. The Police Officers talked to the YEP students about how an officers job is more than just catching a bad guy, and includes helping people, educating them about the law, and preventing crime from happening.

The Cadets each spoke about why they joined this program and what they have received from it. During one particularly moving moment, all of the YEP children stood up and talked with the cadets. It was great to see them all interacting. There is a great need across the country to build stronger, trusting relationships between the community and the police. This presentation was incredibly valuable for the youth. We hope that series and our partners continue to bring value to our students.

Want to know more about who we are partnering with? Follow us on Facebook for photos and updates from the program each week. Please visit, like, and share the Philly311 Youth Engagement page with your networks. We want to get the word out about the great work we are doing with the Education Works Summer Program.
I hope that you will stay tuned and keep up with this program as it progresses. This program will continue to grow and we are observing where we have room to improve in the future. But, so far, I am very pleased with its progress.

Rosetta Carrington Lue is the City of Philadelphia first Chief Customer Officer. She is a dynamic leader in the fields of Customer Experience Management, Strategy and Technology, Social Media and Community Engagement in both public and private sectors.

Getting kids involved in local government – Philly311 Youth Engagement Program Kick-off

I am happy to report that we have officially hosted two very successful sessions of our Youth Engagement Program (Y.E.P). On Thursday, July 16, 2015, we launched our first session. The session was dedicated to what Philly311 is and how young people can use it as tool to better their communities. Daniel Ramos, our Community Engagement Coordinator, focused on teaching the students about Philly311’s mobile app. After Daniel’s lesson students were able to take our mobile app into the field and report issues.

Prior to the session we passed around a survey asking students if they were familiar with Philly311, and what they knew about City government. It was important for us to gauge their understanding. What we could learn about what they know is just as important as the information we are teaching. Asking for their input, and what they wanted to learn, will be an asset when we consider future youth programming.

As you can imagine, the responses to our survey questions were all over the board, but for the most part mentioned education, trash collection, and snow removal. Some of the students had no idea what local government did, and wrote on our survey that they would like to know what city government is. The most common response, when we asked what the children would like to learn from this program, was how they can make a difference in their community.

That’s a powerful question: How can I make a difference in my community? The mobile app is one of the many ways anyone can directly influence their surroundings. Using the mobile app, they were able to their report pertinent information about their neighborhood. After our first session, the students submitted a total of 25 service requests. The issue reported the most was graffiti, followed by illegal dumping. It goes to show how educating youth about municipal services can inspire younger citizens.

Last Thursday, at the second Y.E.P session, the Police Explorers Cadet Program presented their program to the Y.E.P students. Twelve Cadets and three officers came to Harding Middle School and talked about how the Explores program works to get young people ready for the academy. Through hard work, including 300 hours of community service and 700 hours of training, the Police Explorers program helps prepare young people who want to go into any kind of law enforcement or paramilitary career. The Police Officers talked to the Y.E.P students about how an officers job is more than just catching a bad guy, and includes helping people, educating them about the law, and preventing crime from happening.

The Cadets each spoke about why they joined this program and what they have received from it. During one particularly moving moment, all of the Y.E.P children stood up and talked with the cadets. It was great to see them all interacting. There is a great need across the country to build stronger, trusting relationships between the community and the police. This presentation was incredibly valuable for the youth. We hope that series and our partners continue to bring value to our students.

Want to know more about who we are partnering with? Follow us on Facebook for photos and updates from the program each week. Please visit, like, and share the Philly311 Youth Engagement page with your networks. We want to get the word out about the great work we are doing with the Education Works Summer Program.

I hope that you will stay tuned and keep up with this program as it progresses. This program will continue to grow and we are observing where we have room to improve in the future. But, so far, I am very pleased with its progress.

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.

Creating a Welcoming & Connected City: 311 Youth Engagement Program

A few weeks ago I posed a challenge to my Philly311 Customer Service Programs and Engagement Strategist, Amanda V. Wagner: Create a program that encourages young people to be civically involved. Amanda leads the Philly311 Customer Service Programs and Strategies Unit which is responsible for Philly311’s customer service innovative programs and communications.

She was excited by the idea; however creating the program would be a challenge within itself. Daniel Ramos, Philly311’s Community Engagement Coordinator managed a similar program in the past with the 311 Youth Neighborhood Liaison Program. The experience that Daniel acquired during the 311 Youth Neighborhood Liaison Program would shape what recently became the Youth Engagement Program.

At the core of Philly311’s philosophy is one simple idea. Philly311 connects citizens to city services and resources, and there is a plethora of city services available to people outside of what citizens see on a daily basis. We want to educate adults about those city related services, and especially kids who could benefit most from it. I strongly believe that by being able to engage young talent early we can leave have a positive impression on our profession, help include and engage them to be part of the process to solve problems in their neighborhood and we may influence them to consider a career in government as a profession.

I am proud of one of the organizations we have partnered with on the youth program, After School Activities Partnerships (ASAP). ASAP works to serve the 45,000 kids citywide that spend an average of “20-25 hours a week alone after school between 3pm and 6pm, the most dangerous time of day for youth according to the Police Department.” Organizations like ASAP are a huge resource to citizens and meet a significant need in the community.

The Philly311 Youth Engagement Program (Y.E.P) kicks off in July for five week sessions. Y.E.P’s programming will teach a group of early middle school kids how to interact with Philly311, including a discussion on our award winning mobile app, and how to engage with community resources. Y.E.P has partnered with several City of Philadelphia affiliated youth programs to provide a well-rounded roster of opportunities. Under the supervision of Amanda V. Wagner, and Director of Communications for Philly311, Gabriela Raczka, the program has created long lasting alliances with our community partners.

I am grateful for a great Philly311 team that shares my passion for government customer service, and I’m looking forward to the feedback we’ll receive and the impact the program will create for the children of Philadelphia.

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.

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.