How User-Friendly Online Services Drive Citizen Satisfaction

Citizen satisfaction is not just a buzzword; it’s an essential metric for evaluating the performance of local governments. Research indicates that a staggering 72% of citizens are interested in utilizing online government services. Despite this interest, over half abandon their attempts due to difficulties in navigation and access. The implications are clear: providing user-friendly online services is not a luxury but necessary for increasing citizen satisfaction and fostering trust.

Citizen Satisfaction: The Cornerstone of an Effective Local Government

Citizen satisfaction serves as a barometer for the effectiveness of local government. A satisfied citizenry is more likely to engage with the community, trust their local government, and participate in civic responsibilities like voting. According to a study by Pew Research Center, 71% of Americans who have a favorable view of their local government are also actively engaged in their communities, compared to just 28% who have an unfavorable view.

The Challenges of Simple Online Services

While the advent of online services opens doors for more efficient and streamlined government-citizen interactions, it’s not without its challenges. One of the most significant obstacles is the complexity of user interfaces. In an environment where many citizens are already hesitant to engage with governmental systems, a convoluted or unintuitive interface can serve as a formidable barrier.

 

Moreover, the issue of accessibility remains a pivotal concern. This isn’t just about having access to a computer or the internet. It is also about how easy the system is for people who may not be digitally literate. Aging populations combined with a constantly changing technological environment create a level of complexity that some people cannot navigate.

The Ripple Effect of User-Friendly Online Services

The benefits of enhancing the usability of online government services extend far beyond mere convenience. They directly impact the quality of governance and citizen satisfaction. For instance, efficient problem resolution is a tangible outcome of a well-designed interface. When citizens can easily report issues or request services, it expedites the government’s ability to address these concerns and creates a positive feedback loop.

 

Additionally, the usability of online services directly correlates with government transparency and civic engagement. A system that enables straightforward access to information or services naturally encourages citizens to interact more with their local government. This fosters a culture of transparency, as citizens are more likely to be informed about government initiatives and spending. Therefore, investing in the usability of online services can be a strategic move that pays dividends in multiple facets of governance and citizen satisfaction.

Blueprints for Success

Leveraging a sophisticated case management system can significantly elevate the quality of citizen engagement for local governments. This sets the stage for a more streamlined and user-friendly online experience. One of the most crucial features of such a system is an easy-to-use, citizen-facing web form. Local governments can ensure that citizens can effortlessly report issues or request services by providing a straightforward and intuitive form. This streamlined approach can significantly improve problem-resolution efficiency, enabling government agencies to promptly and accurately collect all necessary information. Mobile capabilities further extend this accessibility, allowing citizens to engage with their local government whenever and wherever it’s most convenient.

Another standout feature of a robust case management system is automated communication. This functionality ensures that citizens are kept in the loop about the status of their issue or request, from initial receipt to final resolution. Such automation not only reduces the administrative burden on government staff but also enhances the transparency of the process. Furthermore, citizen outreach can be integrated into the system to periodically update the community about new initiatives, upcoming events, or important announcements. By combining these elements—accessible web forms, mobile capabilities, automated communication, and citizen outreach—local governments can create a holistic, user-friendly online experience that meets and exceeds citizens’ expectations, thereby fostering higher engagement and satisfaction levels.

AccessE11 is a solution that can tackle all these issues, while being affordable and easy to implement for your municipality. By offering automation, citizen outreach, and an easy to use citizen facing webform, AccessE11 gives local governments of any size the chance to bring easy online access to their citizens. You can do the same in your municipality.

In Conclusion

Driving citizen satisfaction is no longer just ‘nice-to-have’; it’s a necessity for the overall health of local governments. Investing in user-friendly online services can significantly elevate citizen satisfaction, engagement, and trust. As we move deeper into the digital age, the governments that prioritize these aspects will be the ones to set benchmarks in effective governance.

 

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Ontario’s Minimum Wage & The Inflationary Wage Spiral

With the minimum wage in Ontario set to increase significantly by +6.7% in October, we’re seeing many employers in this high inflation environment budgeting for increases of between 3% to 5% (or more) — much higher than the historical average of 1.5% to 3.0%. Hourly wages increased on average by 4.0% in 2022, compared to the historical pre-pandemic average of 2.5% (+/-). 2023 is not over but early data suggests wages at the macro-level could increase at a higher pace again this year than the historical norm (following a CPI increase last year of +6.7% – which is why the Ontario minimum wage is going up by that amount in October – it is tied to the annual CPI measurement).

Hopefully inflation will cool but current trends are not yet consistently supporting that view (July CPI was 3.3% vs the same month last year, though economists were predicting it would be lower, at 3.0%).While the economy contracted at an annualized rate of 0.2 per cent in the second quarter of 2023 (which was far weaker than forecasters had expected) it remains to be seen if this is indeed a sign of tapering that will continue in the quarters ahead. At the same time, it appears that wage gains are finally outstripping inflation, meaning there is real growth in wages for the first time, in a long time.

“Entry level” staff seem to be the most difficult to attract and retain right now and it remains to be seen if a higher minimum wage in October will address this shortage. Not unlike 2018 when the provincial government increased the minimum wage to $14.00 (from $11.60), there was a huge cost-crunch for employers that also threw off the internal equilibrium in many organizations with lower-wage workers making as much as more skilled counterparts due to the sudden jump.This will occur again but to a lesser degree (compression between lower paid staff and mid-range employees).

Higher salary budgets may be required for some time, even in the face of a weakening economy. Targeted actions may also be required to address internal-equity imbalances, particularly after the October hike to the minimum wage (we are also mindful that these above-average recommendations themselves contribute to the inflation we are all experiencing). We are told that inflation will cool this year and next, and if that holds true, we should see increases reduce to the 2-3% range again. Time will tell.

 

(Need more information or other Human Resources advice?  Please feel free to contact us for more information about our services including our HRLive platform, a turnkey solution built to address the HR needs of small-to-medium municipalities).

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Just what is a Municipal CAO?

Whenever I tell someone, I was a municipal CAO earlier in my career, I see their eyes glaze over and they slowly respond, “Ohhh??”, in a questioning tone and with a realization they have absolutely no idea what that is.

Yet, she or he might be the most important person you’ve never heard of.” [i] .

A municipal CAO plays a role – arguably perhaps the most important municipal role, that affects you on a day-to-day basis.

Here’s the Textbook Description:

Your municipal chief administrative officer is the top administrator in a local government and is directly involved with many key decisions that impact your everyday life.  

They exercise general control and management of the municipality for the purpose of ensuring the efficient and effective operation of the municipality.  They are also visionaries who continually look for new and innovative ways to enhance and improve services for citizens, all the while balancing public expectations with financial feasibility.   

The CAO has a direct influence on everything from planning for the future of the municipality to how your garbage is picked up.

So, why don’t folks know about them? 

Well, mostly because they are typically the unsung heroes who work away in the background. The CAO role is not an elected position and they typically do not act as the public voice for the municipality – that’s the role of Mayor or Council. 

Candidates for CAO positions are hired – generally after a grueling and lengthy interview process, and then appointed to the position by By-Law.  They are highly trained and experienced individuals.

CAOs are not politically motivated, nor are they Chiefs of Staff for a Mayor. They provide recommendations to Council but at the end of the day, Council makes the decisions that govern every aspect of a municipality.

I totally understand why folks do not know what a municipal CAO is.  I sure never grew up saying I was going to be municipal CAO!  But, from my experience, being a municipal CAO is one of the most interesting and rewarding careers you will ever have.

So, get to know your CAO – and consider a career in municipal government!

Susan Shannon, CEO muniSERV.ca

[i]  San Grewal, Urban Affairs Reporter, Toronto Star – Wed., June 1, 2016

 

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About Municipal Strategic Planning

bullseye and arrow

When candidates run for municipal Council, they do so not only because they have a passion for helping their communities, but they also often have ideas and goals for the community.   

From my experience, the most successful municipalities are those where Council and staff work as a team to achieve identified goals. That’s why it’s imperative to undertake a strategic planning process early in a new Council term.  The process serves important learning and teamwork objectives for both Council members and staff and really starts to get the team pulling in the same direction.

Many great articles have been written by various municipal scholars and organizations on strategic planning, so I’m not going to start reinventing the wheel here, but there is merit in taking a look at a few great examples that will remind us all of what Municipal Strategic Planning is, the value of Strategic Planning for communities and how a municipality goes about undertaking a strategic planning process.

What is Strategic Planning?

#1 – Source: MMAH Municipal Councillors Guide

Strategic planning is a process by which an organization defines its strategy or direction, and makes decisions about allocating its resources – both financial and staff resources needed to pursue this strategy. Through the strategic planning process, a municipal council can develop strategies, goals, objectives and action plans to achieve the future it desires. Once a strategic plan is adopted, a municipality may wish to measure its success over time and review the plan periodically to ensure that it still aligns with current issues, challenges and realities.

Why is it important for Municipalities?

#2 – Source: Bill Winegard, Municipal Strategic Planning Associates

Undertaking a strategic planning process at the beginning of each Council term is critically important to successful municipal governance by:

  • identifying where consensus lies among members of Council
  • establishing priorities for the term and indicators of success
  • enunciating at a meaningful level the commitment of the Council and Corporation to the community and the results that the community should expect
  • aligning the efforts of staff with the direction of Council
  • motivating Council members, staff, and other partners to work purposefully, and to monitor and take pride in their accomplishments
  • sketching out a council term action plan sequence that keeps the most important things top of mind
  • balancing a promising vision with feasible resources

How Do We Undertake a Strategic Planning Process?

#3 – Source: AMCTO – Continually Improving Municipalities to Achieve Strategic Success

A strategic plan is not static, but should be a guiding document which sets out the vision and priorities of the municipality. In this way, it establishes a framework that the municipality’s operations can align with. Strategic success is often seen as being able to achieve the initiatives in the plan.

However, equally important but often overlooked, is the need to ensure service delivery yields value for money for taxpayers. This can be accomplished by linking daily operations with the strategic goals of the organization and developing mechanisms to ensure a continual improvement of organizational performance.

#4 – Source: ICMA Blog Post on Strategic Planning, by Sara McGuffin, Town Manager, Amherst, Virginia 

Through this (strategic planning) process, small communities can remember what makes them unique, focus their efforts on what unites them, and move toward a better future, and do so in a way that pulls the community closer, rather than drives it apart.

Strategic planning that involves the community, incorporates the unique vision and goals of the community, is agreed to by the elected body, and tied firmly to our budgets, will keep residents, staff, and elected representatives focused on the business, as well as the vision, of government and how to make the community a better place.

Are there any Tools to help Small Municipalities with Strategic Planning?

#5 – Source: ICMA Strategic Planning in Small Communities – A Manager’s Manual, by Sara McGuffin, Town manager, Amherst, Virginia 

The Canadian Association of Municipal Administrators (CAMA) recently circulated this tool from the International City/County Managers Association (ICMA).  

This resource will help local government leaders remember what they know and find additional tools to do their budgeting and strategic planning better. You can also download the introduction to the manual by Sara McGuffin here.

Summary:

When developed with the insights of Council, staff and the public, a strategic plan represents a shared view of the municipality’s future, encourages public commitment and supports the ability for the municipality to move towards achieving the identified, mutual goals.

By, Susan Shannon, AMCT

CEO, muniSERV.ca

 

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Change takes time. The Future is approaching.

So, our first piece of advice is to start thinking about it now. And yes, you can ease into the future; it does not have to happen tomorrow.

When organizations are planning out their new, or enhanced physical security needs we are often asked what are the trends that are likely to shape physical security in the future?

The same question is usually followed up with… “If we do this, or if we buy this, will this sustain us in the future?”

Which also can be interpreted to… “So, we don’t have to buy something else, and that this will last us a long time, right?”

Good questions, but always a challenge to answer. Many factors play out as resistance or even catalysts to these questions and their subsequent decisions. Risk exposure, budgets, actual realized events, change in the organization’s focus, change in the organization’s leadership, campaign promises, or even change in some environments, regulation or legislation “forcing” a change, all impact the ‘future’ question.

What are those future trends shaping physical security? Some trends outlined in the list below may be a surprise, some may appear too futuristic.

  1. Increased use of biometric security measures: Biometric security measures, such as fingerprint scanners and facial recognition technology, are becoming more popular as they offer a high level of accuracy and are difficult to bypass.
  2. Rise of smart security systems: Smart security systems are becoming more common, and these systems often use artificial intelligence (AI) and machine learning to analyze video footage and detect potential threats.
  3. Greater emphasis on cybersecurity: As more security systems become connected to the internet, cybersecurity is becoming an increasingly important consideration. Companies are investing in measures to protect against cyber-attacks that could compromise their security systems.
  4. Increased use of drones: Drones or Remotely Piloted Aircraft System(s) (RPAS) are being used more frequently for security purposes, such as patrolling large areas, inspecting high-risk locations or even in response to incidents in providing real-time surveillance.
  5. Greater use of virtual reality (VR) and augmented reality (AR) in training: VR and AR are being used to train security personnel in simulated environments, allowing them to practice their skills and respond to potential threats in a safe and controlled setting.
  6. Integration of physical and cybersecurity: As threats evolve and become more sophisticated, it is increasingly important for physical security and cybersecurity to work together to provide comprehensive protection. This integration may involve integrating cybersecurity measures into physical security systems, such as installing firewall protection on security cameras.

Biometrics, smart security systems, cybersecurity emphasis and the integration of physical and cybersecurity have been on our radar for several years now and have been introduced into our past and current projects with great adoption by our client base.

The trend not mentioned here but remains a constant for us, is the due diligence required to ensure the “paperwork” is complete, up to date, used and enforced. Your policies, and procedures, training programs, guidance documents and standards are the backbones for all these physical security tools to work in the manner they were intended for your organization.

Of course, great planning and the execution of that plan is essential. Planning is a cyclical process that can start, stop, and reset when required. The future is changing. Be prepared.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Reach out. We can help.

Should your Municipality need assistance, contact Michael White Group International today, and we will be happy to answer your questions. Visit michaelwhitegroup.com/contact/

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Free Webinar – Learn From Municipalities Using Service Request Management Software

 

Join us for a free webinar

Hosted by AccessE11 and OMLI, discover how these municipalities have utilized powerful service request management software to bring major improvements to their municipality.

Tuesday, September 27, 2022 – 12:00 p.m. to 1:00 p.m.

Learn how Hastings Highlands, St. Thomas and Meaford, Ontario, benefited from service request management software to meet the needs of their citizens. 

Register Here

Presented in partnership with 

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What is Boolean Logic?

Girl encircled by search icons and AI

What is Boolean Logic?

Have you ever wondered how a computer can do something like balance a check book, or spell-check a document? If you want to understand the answer to this question down at the very core, the first thing you need to understand is something called Boolean Logic.   [i]

Why do you need to understand Boolean Logic?

Well, as the use of artificial intelligence (AI) increases, it will be important for us all to understand it.  I am no expert on it by any means, but here’s my take on what I understand to be the very basic fundamentals of it, in the simplest and broadest of terms.

The term “Boolean” refers to a system of logic developed by the mathematician and early computer pioneer, George Boole.

A Boolean search is a query technique that utilizes Boolean Logic to connect individual keywords or phrases within a single query.
Boolean searching allows the user to combine or limit words and phrases in an online search in order to retrieve relevant results.  Boolean searching includes three key Boolean operators: AND, OR, and NOT which are used to limit, broaden and define the search results.
When these “operators” are used between two keywords, the search will result as follows:
  • A Boolean search for “Cats AND Dogs” will retrieve all documents that contain both words
  • A Boolean search for “Cats NOT Dogs”, will retrieve only documents that contain the word “Cats”
  • A Boolean search for “Cats OR Dogs”, will retrieve documents that contain either the word “Cats” or the word, “Dogs”
Wildcard Characters (? and *) are also used in Boolean Logic. 
  • “?” matches a single character (i.e. the search string “re?” will match both rest and rent)
  • “*” matches multiple characters (i.e. the wildcard search “res*”, will match rest, rested and resting.[ii]
Quotation marks require words to be searched as a phrase, in the exact order you type them. For example, when searching for posts about Asset Management, using the quotation marks will search for the phrase exactly as it appears (i.e., “Asset Management”).  It would not return  documents that contain both the words, Asset and Management, in any other combination.
There are other elements to Boolean Logic, but I don’t want to get you too far into the weeds.  
The main thing I wanted to achieve with this article is; a) to provide an introduction to Boolean Logic, for those of us who are new to it and, b) for you to understand that combining Boolean strings with AI-powered search filters to conduct a search, utilizes a search engine to its fullest, most comprehensive potential for optimum search results.
Susan Shannon, CEO
muniSERV.ca

[i] How Boolean Logic Works, by Marshal Brain, Science Direct

[ii] Gnowit Guide to Boolean Logic – Boolean Primer

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UCaaS is critical for any authority service improvement

what is UCaaS?

Unified Communications as a Service (UCaaS)  is a network of cloud-based telephone system that controls the flow of calls coming in and out of your organization. We replace your on-premises PBXs, as well as your SIP, PRIs, and POTS lines. UCaaS enables you to use a variety of hosted programs and services (including instant messaging, video conferencing, file sharing, and email) over the Internet from any location and at any time.  In addition, UCaaS provides security, allows flexibility, and integrates well with your other software applications including MS Teams. UCaaS systems are updated frequently by the provider ensuring that your communication methods will always be up-to-date in our ever-evolving world.

Why UCaaS is critical for all customer-guided corporations?

 
GUARANTEES YOUR BUSINESS CONINUITY & SECURITY

Experteers can easily answer this for all municipalities and companies who care about their customers.

First of all we have to emphasize about the importance of continuity in all circumstances, UCaaS provides the best option to avoid your business any hiccups along the road because of any reasons. UCaaS is available on any communication device, laptop, or PC anywhere at anytime to be able to efficiently communicate with your customers.

Security is another crucial requirement for all connected networks, voice calls, video conferencing, and instant messaging are parts of all departments communications to enable them to work properly and deliver services. Experteers, as part of security provider, enable first layer of security by having all our servers in Canada, maintaining 100% availability by having four communication centers in main four cities in Canada in Montreal, Calgary, Vancouver, and Toronto, and to maintain the second layer of security by having all SOC certified centers.

INCORPORATES THE LATEST FEATURES

When you have UCaaS, you’ll be able to use all the latest functions and features without any additional cost. You’ll also have the assurance that your information is kept safe and secure in a reliable data center. Having the ability to keep your communications up-to-date allows you to remain competitive and helps to increase your overall performance.

 

OFFERS FLEXIBILITY AND SCALABILITY

UCaaS allows organizations to add and remove users (for example, temporary employees) without any significant infrastructure changes or capital investments. UCaaS also provides seamless work experiences for your employees since they are cloud-based and accessible from any location – great for those working remotely.

 

PROMOTES PRODUCTIVITY

By using a UCaaS system, your productivity increases. All of your employees have unified communications support that is sharable amongst all departments, and UCaaS integrates well with your other software applications (like CRM). UCaaS keeps communication lines open and provides ways for your employees to log into various devices to access their information (such as voicemails).

 

LAST BUT NOT LEAST

SAVES YOU MONEY

When switching to UCaaS, there are minimal upfront hardware costs – you only need phones. You will also have the ability to choose the services you need (and not waste money on the ones you do not). UCaaS allows you to concentrate on growing your business by decreasing your dependence on capital investments.

 

UCaaS

 

We at EXPERTEERS are helping municipalities, utility companies, and medical centers increase employee productivity by adding a state of the art Unified Communications Solution, enhancing collaboration and increasing employee efficiency.

  • Enable your team to work remotely (hybrid)
  • Train employees more efficiently with sentiment analysis
  • Monitor key performance metrics with automated reports
  • Boost company performance through detailed analytics & collaboration
  • .. and more

Let us help you improve your client experience, call us at EXPERTEERS to learn how we can help enable your business for success in 2022.

 

Experteers is a system integrator SI and managed service provider MSP for the following services:

– SASE / SD-WAN: to secure all ur networking between all branches.

– NGFW: Next Generation Fire Wall centralized to keep all networks secured in almost real-time updated system.

– NMS: Network Managed System to keep your visibility on all network elements and servers to improve your systems availability.

– Cyber-Security on all endpoints and servers

EXPERTEERS CORPORATION

WWW.EXPERTEERS.COM

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Spotlight on the DEI Journey

Predictive Success Webinar Series

Many business leaders are grappling with where to start their Diversity, Equity & Inclusion Journey – there’s work to be done!

Organizations like the Mennonite Economic Development Associates (MEDA) have learned that transformative change starts from the inside, out.

What does change look like in a time when so many organizations continue to face capacity issues?

What role does your Board of Directors need to play to wake and shake up the sleeping giant?

What are some of the courageous steps that you’ll need to take to lead the journey through uncharted territory?

Join us for Spotlight on the DEI Journey with Dr. Dorothy Nyambi, where we’ll uncover answers to these and other questions.

Learn more and register

Spotlight on the DEI Journey Webinar Flyer Final

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Find your Dream Employee in 2022

Your next hire, on us.

Find your Dream Employee in 2022 with The Predictive Index® – New Talent Optimization Software from Predictive Success

See the power of predictive analytics in hiring a perfect fit. Your all star candidate is in the driver’s seat. Seize the opportunity by offering them the perfect job fit, backed by scientific data.

This Complementary Offer is Valid for muniSERV Members: One free job model and five free PI Behavioural Assessments® for your top candidates. 

To redeem: Contact Mitch LePage, your Managing Principal with Predictive Success at [email protected] or (905) 430-9788 x110

See the full brochure on this special offer: MuniSERV Offer – Your Next Hire on Us with Predictive Success

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