Customer Service Excellence – Maximizing Efficiency and Improving Customer Service

AccessE11 Citizen Issue ManagementMunicipal 311 Software Designed for Local Government

Produce better relationships with citizens through automated status updates with a highly-integrated platform your staff will love.

  • Is your municipality looking for ways to improve your complaint and service request management?
  • Do you want to better understand the issues citizens are bringing to your municipality?
  • Would you like for your citizens to be able to view and update the issues they bring to your municipality?
  • Would you like valuable reports for your department heads and council?
  • How about collaborating with staff on the issues they are managing?
  • Want to streamline services requests and effectively manage them?

AccessE11 is a cloud-based, easy-to-use software solution to assist municipalities in better managing, tracking and reporting citizen inquiries, issues and complaints impacting your community.

Register for our Webinar to learn about all of this and more!

Presented in Partnership with The Ontario Municipal Leadership Institute

     

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Tips to Run a Successful In-Person Meeting

Over the last two years, many of us had to learn how to connect differently than we were used to. Instead of putting on our best suit, we’re still in our jammies from the waist down. Instead of shaking hands we’re pushing unmute.

Slowly but surely, the world is beginning to open back up. Where it’s safe to do so, many meetings are returning to an in-person format. Since we’ve all become accustomed to doing things virtually, it may take a little time and effort to get back into the swing of the face-to-face meetings. Here are a few tips to help make your meetings run as smoothly as possible.

Set the Agenda:

Municipalities know this, but meetings always run more efficiently when there is an agenda to follow. Having a clear agenda helps set the expectations. If the conversation starts going off track, you can always point back to the agenda items to steer things in the right direction. Setting out estimated times each agenda item should take for discussion, will also help provide direction and keep folks on track.

Start on Time. End on Time.

While it may seem polite to wait for some late arrivals to join, there’s a bigger downside to holding off until everyone is in the room. First and foremost, this sets a bad precedent. Accommodating the latecomers shows the others that arrival times are lax. This can spiral out of control quickly. Secondly, the attendees who’ve prioritized arriving on time are now feeling frustrated that their time isn’t being seen as valuable.

Set Ground Rules:

Having a few basic ground rules around meeting etiquette can help provide great flow in your meeting. Some solid rules, or expectations, can be something simple like; participate, get focus, maintain momentum, and reach closure. If you list these rules at the top of your agenda, both new and returning attendees will understand the direction of the meeting.

End with an Action Plan:

We’ve all been in meetings where the conversation seems to go around in circles without resolving anything. It’s important to establish a plan of action for the agenda items that need follow-up. Assigning certain people to particular tasks and plotting out a course of accountability will ensure that your meetings have purpose and value to all of those involved. We’ve conducted meetings by video teleconference for so long, (and honestly, we’ve become pretty good at them), it will be an adjustment for everyone to start attending again in person. But a well-organized meeting, and Chairperson with good leadership skills, will get us all back
in the swing of things soon.

Oh, and one more thing – dig out that suit again. Things may have changed over the last couple of years, but it’s still not considered socially acceptable to wear pajama bottoms to an in-person meeting.

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Customer Service Excellence – Maximizing Efficiency and Improving Customer Service

AccessE11 Citizen Issue ManagementMunicipal 311 Software Designed for Local Government

Produce better relationships with citizens through automated status updates with a highly-integrated platform your staff will love.

  • Is your municipality looking for ways to improve your complaint and service request management?
  • Do you want to better understand the issues citizens are bringing to your municipality?
  • Would you like for your citizens to be able to view and update the issues they bring to your municipality?
  • Would you like valuable reports for your department heads and council?
  • How about collaborating with staff on the issues they are managing?
  • Want to streamline services requests and effectively manage them?

AccessE11 is a cloud-based, easy-to-use software solution to assist municipalities in better managing, tracking and reporting citizen inquiries, issues and complaints impacting your community.

Register for our Webinar to learn about all of this and more!

Presented in Partnership with The Ontario Municipal Leadership Institute

     

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Free Webinar – RFx Academy –  Module 1 Review of Competitive Procurement Vehicles

Free Webinar – RFx Academy –  Module 1 Review of Competitive Procurement Vehicles

WEDNESDAY, SEPTEMBER 29 11:30 EST

There are many different types of procurement tools, RFx documents, used to solicit bids. We’ll review RFQ, RFP, RFT, NRFP, RFSO, RFPQ and what each is used for.

What You’ll Learn:

  • The RFx vehicles commonly used in competitive procurement, how they are different, and what they’re typically used for.

Register Here.

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How ZoomProspector makes you look like an economic development rockstar

GIS Planning’s clients range from small towns with a single economic development person (who often also handles duties at the chamber, the city manager’s office etc.) to large cities or regional and statewide economic development agencies with large staffs.

But no matter the size of the EDO is, they always have more projects and incoming requests than people or time.

Fortunately, GIS Planning clients can rely on the equivalent of an extra staff member with ZoomProspector working for their region.

Closeup portrait happy excited young economic developer celebrating successZoomProspector is available to answer questions 24/7 from anyone who comes to your website, whether they’re a potential investor, site selector or local entrepreneur. The industry’s leading GIS web tool for economic development can always be relied upon to offer accurate, up-to-date information in clear, visually compelling ways. And while it can’t crack a clever joke in meetings, celebrate birthdays or join co-workers for drinks after work, it will also never take a vacation, steal your lunch from the fridge or leave the coffee pot empty.

Reliable, smart and unflappable, ZoomProspector is the staff member every economic developer wants on their team. It makes everyone around them look good by helping them succeed. It makes you look like a rock star by facilitating quick, reliable research and helping generate beautiful, branded reports and polished proposals.

We have clients who speak with businesses only after that business has (in effect) qualified themselves by gathering information and answering questions, using the powerful analytical tools and extensive datasets provided by ZoomProspector.

In a fast-paced digital world where people want that information before they take time to pick up the phone and connect in person, ZoomProspector offers a critical competitive advantage. In many cases, simple questions about a community’s demographics, labor force, businesses, wages, etc. can be answered on the public ZoomProspector site using a few clicks of a mouse button.

As the most intuitive and user-friendly GIS site selection data tool on the market (by a long shot), they don’t need training or guidance to do so. You can rest confident that you aren’t losing leads before you even know they exist.

When more extensive data requests or RFP’s come in, GIS Planning clients have the ability to pull down and compose sophisticated reports on their community, with custom mile or drive time analyses around specific available sites or buildings, or around a pinpoint on a map. They can easily build and export reports from ZoomProspector in a few minutes. When our economic development clients receive incoming requests from elected officials, members of their community, academics or journalists, they too can be handled easily and quickly. Thus such request is transformed from a time-consuming nuisance to an easily handled opportunity to network, engage and build or bolster relationships with stakeholders.

Our drag and drop proposal generator now enables our clients to begin a response to an RFP, or begin crafting a proposal, with one click, and from there it’s easy to include available sites and buildings with relevant data reports, even include video and photos.

Best of all, anyone can perform the same high-level, detailed analyses on ZoomProspector at any time of day or night. GIS Planning created ZoomProspector to be a public-facing, easy-to-use source open access data portal. Economic developers can simply point to their own public website to answer basic questions, direct marketing campaigns to the website as a “call to action”, and make their website an integral part of their information toolkit.

With our ZoomTour platform, our clients can go even further and offer an online immersive experience, using media ranging from still photos to video to drone footage, and (of course) GIS Planning data tools, to provide a guided tour of a community (or a part of the community like the downtown area, or specific business clusters etc.), available 24/7, 365 days per year.

Learn how GIS Planning’s innovative GIS data tools for economic development can serve your community. Book a demo today!

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Citizen Service Summit

Event name: Customer Service Professionals Network – Citizen Service Summit

Cost: Complimentary until August 15, 2021

Register Here 

Description:

Join public sector leaders from all over Canada to learn new strategies to digitize, personalize, and automate citizen service.

This innovative 2-day virtual summit will be held on September 15 & 16, 2021 and will consist of sessions designed to share future-forward trends and tactical steps organizations of all sizes can take post-pandemic.

Sneak peak of speakers below. More to be announced shortly.

  • Andrew Enns, Executive VP, Leger Winnipeg: Measuring Community Perceptions
  • Dr. Gillian Mandich, Happiness Researcher: How to Build More Positive & Resilient Teams
  • Corey Atkinson, VP of L&D, CSPN: Inspiring Change Through Training
  • Nitin Badjatia, Head, Product Strategy – Customer Service Management, ServiceNow: Using Knowledge Management to Increase Employee Retention
  • Kenny Johnston, President, Bill Gosling Outsourcing: Optimizing Your Service Centre
  • David Singh, Partner, CSPN: Mastering Change Management Amidst the Post-Pandemic Chaos

Special thank you to our sponsors:

  • ServiceNow
  • Bill Gosling Outsourcing
  • Leger Canada

For more information, please visit our website here.

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Considering a SaaS Platform for Citizen Request Management? Here are Some Key Questions to Ask

Local governments are continually looking for ways to streamline their operations. But with increasing citizen demands for more modern and accessible digital services, along with limited and declining budgets, bridging all of these needs can be a challenge. A growing number of municipalities are moving to manage these challenges by adopting Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms for core operating functions.

In this article, we take a look at some of the key things to consider when selecting a SaaS solution specifically to underpin your citizen request management process.

Does the Service align well with your operational needs?

The answer to this question obviously needs to be a resounding yes, however when evaluating cloud-based citizen request management solutions it is critical to start with a clear understanding of what your true needs are – both immediate and longer term. First and foremost, preferred solutions should be designed from the ground up with the needs of local governments in mind for the best chance of a successful implementation. Where not the case, adaptation to your process requirements will likely be more difficult and prone to failure. Be equally wary of solutions that offer feature functionality that you can’t or won’t actually use as this will normally drive unnecessary cost, and also lead to sub-optimal usability and poorer uptake by staff. To fully benefit from the cost savings promised by moving to the cloud, also look for solutions that include tools that can be used by trained administrators within your organization to configure and customize the SaaS solution to your specific requirements without costly custom software development.

What considerations exist to keep the citizen fully engaged in the Service Request Management process?

In all aspects of local government operations, citizen engagement as a strategy to create better and more livable communities is seeing increased emphasis. Yet too often citizen involvement in the service request management process takes a back seat to internal tracking against the municipal assets that the requests relate to. Solutions that keep citizens at the forefront will leave them feeling well served and more compelled to contribute to the process. For example, a well-designed citizen request management platform should support multiple channels for the purpose of accepting requests so that citizens can interact how and when it works for them. Solutions should also be mobile friendly, automate communications for real-time status updates, respect WCAG guidelines for accessibility, and include on-line capabilities for citizens to view and comment on the requests they raise.

What do the SaaS vendor’s track record and reputation look like?

As is the case with any product or service purchase, an understanding of a vendor’s previous experience is a great leading indicator or whether their offer is right for you. When it comes to citizen issue tracking, look for companies that have been around for several years and that can demonstrate success with local governments having similar operations to your own. Speaking directly with appropriate reference customers should be a given. Credible software review sites like G2 and Capterra are also highly useful to gauge customer experience and success and to compare the different options that are available to you.

What happens to my pre-existing data?

If you are currently using an on-premise system for citizen service requests or have other sources of data that you have invested in over time, it is worth understanding the potential and ease with which this data can be preserved. Ideal solutions will provide administrative tools to simplify the data import process. And where source data needs to be cleaned or transformed to make this possible, your SaaS solution vendor should be able to provide professional services expertise to support required ETL efforts.

Can I take a graduated approach to switching over?

Setting aside the many benefits of a cloud-based solution, new technology will always involve change for your staff and, for this reason alone, you might be interested in starting small and evolving the use of the new platform over time. For managing citizen service requests, solutions that you consider should easily support adoption by a single department or limited number of users in parallel to other departments continuing with existing processes. This can reduce risk, provide an opportunity for user feedback and help to validate the business case for other departments.

What assurances can the vendor provide regarding security, performance and resiliency?

Continuity of your operations and security of your data are critical considerations, and a cloud approach necessarily involves placing trust in your selected vendor to have these in hand. For vendors with any significant customer base, the good news is that these requirements should have received a lot of attention and certified experts will likely have been involved in architecting and securing the hosting environment. But given the nature of citizen request data, you will want to make sure that an acceptable privacy policy exists and that handling of personally identifiable information is understood. It is also important to know what safeguards exist against DDOS attacks or other malicious behaviours, and whether redundancy exists for high availability and disaster recovery purposes. And finally, you will want to ask questions about data backup procedures that are in place, including frequency and location.

How well is integration with other systems supported?

If you find yourself in a position where you need to integrate the citizen request solution with other back-office systems, ask how these integrations can be supported for your unique use case. The principal needs are for the vendor to provide open APIs that allow for secure data exchange between systems, along with professional services to support these efforts. If a vendor has created pre-built connections to leading application integration hubs like Zapier even better as this could greatly reduce the effort and cost involved.

What onboarding, training and support resources are provided?

No evaluation would be complete without gaining a high-level of confidence that onboarding will go smoothly and that your vendor will be there to support your success with the selected citizen request management platform over the long term. Mature vendors will employ a customer experience team and provide a proven process to get you up and running quickly, train your administrative personnel and end users, and guide you through branding and configuring the solution to meet your specific needs. Also look for a searchable online knowledge base where answers to common questions can be found, and a robust and responsive ticketing process for situations where additional vendor expertise is needed.

What are the details of the pricing model?

A clear benefit of moving to the cloud is that it avoids any upfront CAPEX spend when municipal budgets are tight, however the SaaS solution that is right for you should result in lower total cost of ownership over the long term. Costs for available citizen request management solutions are highly variable so, first and foremost, look for a service that is priced right for the operating scale of your municipality. Depending on the simplicity of the pricing model, costs may vary based on metrics like user counts, data storage requirements, transaction volumes or number of modules included. As discussed above, your use of the platform could very well expand over time and any potential price increases should be easy to understand and reasonable.

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How to Persuade Employees to Embrace Records & Content Management

Records and Electronic Content Management (RM/ECM) solutions increase effectiveness, efficiency, and compliance with regulations. A big challenge can be to convince employees to actually use the new software. Unfortunately, nearly a third of RM/ECM migrations fail due to a change management issue.

Issues can arise in a number of forms, such as: 

  • Employee fear. Employees may be afraid that they will lose their jobs because the new system will make them redundant. Such employees may be actively hostile to the change and attempt to sabotage the transition; 
  • Employee routine. Some employees may have worked with a paper-based records management system for decades and be very comfortable with it. These employees may be hesitant to change their routine if they believe that they will be unable to work with the new software;
  • Key people averse to change. Even if the majority of employees are willing to change, the transition may not work if key members of the team aren’t. If the team lead or an otherwise respected or admired employee refuses to change, this attitude may spread to other would-be RM/ECM converts as well; 
  • Employers not putting the time in and/or abandoning the project. Managers can be very busy and if they don’t see quick results they may stop pushing for employees to adopt the RM/ECM solution and move on to their next project;
  • No culture shift. Switching to an RM/ECM solution is a big shift, not only in terms of efficiency and effectiveness but also in how employees think of their work. In an RM/ECM system information can be easily shared across departments, eliminating silos. RM/ECM solutions also reduce the need to print information. If employees don’t adopt these new ways of thinking it can be problematic;
  • Non-supportive software vendors. Vendors are often unaccustomed to working with local governments and don’t realize their unique needs. These vendors may be unwilling to shift their policies or customize their software to meet government requirements.

Luckily, Ricoh has over a decade of experience working with local governments and boasts the ability to implement efficient and effective transition processes. We recognize when local governments perform this transition well. One particular municipality who excelled in its transition to RM/ECM was the Township of Springwater, Ontario. Springwater implemented several of our best practices as it: 

  • Created a team including members from different departments who met frequently and discussed desired results. This ensured that the departments could request the functionalities that they needed;
  • Started the transition process from the top down. First they convinced the council to switch over to the new system, then senior management, and so on. This ensured that employees weren’t change-averse due to the attitudes of those above them. Employees could also ask their superiors if they had any questions about the system. As the superiors had received training first, they were able to effectively answer these questions;
  • Maintained open communication. Springwater regularly polled staff to learn of any questions or concerns about the software and allayed any issues. This also involved assuring employees that the RM/ECM solution would make their lives easier and not harder as some of the monotonous tasks they did before could now be automated, allowing them to focus on more important things;
  • Addressed the culture shift resulting from the transition. Springwater’s transition team spoke to each department about their current information silos and how that would change as information became easy to share. The team also spoke to employees who were used to piling paper on their desks and explained to them how the new system would make their lives easier; 
  • Replicated the old filing structure within the new repository so that employees would feel comfortable with working on the electronic records. Springwater also kept the paper records during the beginning of the transition process until employees were sufficiently comfortable with the new system and saw that the paper system provided no benefits; 
  • Arguably most importantly, Springwater decided to work with a knowledgeable RM/ECM vendor – Ricoh! As Ricoh is extremely experienced in working with local governments and creating custom solutions, Springwater received exactly what they needed. Ricoh provided extensive support throughout the transition and ensured that everything was running as requested. 

Effective RM/ECM solutions make employee lives easier and allow them to work faster. However, employees often need to be convinced of this fact. Follow Springwater’s lead and persuade your employees to adopt RM/ECM. We’ll help you do the rest.

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Customer Service Excellence – Maximizing Efficiency and Improving Customer Service

June 16th 12pm – 1 pm EST

Customer Service Excellence – Maximizing Efficiency and Improving Customer Service

AccessE11 Citizen Issue ManagementMunicipal 311 Software Designed for Local Government

Produce better relationships with citizens through automated status updates with a highly-integrated platform your staff will love.

  • Is your municipality looking for ways to improve your complaint and service request management?
  • Do you want to better understand the issues citizens are bringing to your municipality?
  • Would you like for your citizens to be able to view and update the issues they bring to your municipality?
  • Would you like valuable reports for your department heads and council?
  • How about collaborating with staff on the issues they are managing?
  • Want to streamline services requests and effectively manage them?

AccessE11 is a cloud-based, easy-to-use software solution to assist municipalities in better managing, tracking and reporting citizen inquiries, issues and complaints impacting your community.

Register for our June Webinar to learn about all of this and more!

Presented in Partnership with The Ontario Municipal Leadership Institute

                               

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Being aware – situationally aware

Our world has always been in a state of perpetual change. Now more than ever, it is perceived to be doing that at an ever-rapid pace.

Positive changes such as economic growth, and technology advancements to note a couple. Unfortunately, with the positive, comes the negative. A continuous cycle of persons who wish to do harm.

Safety and Security experts inform us that violent events will continue to happen. The violent extremist motivated and driven by an ideology, to the targeting of individuals, place of business, worship, acts of violence that permeate into every vertical, sector of business and government.

Active safety and security programs are continuous reviewed, modified to face existing and the new challenges of tomorrow.

To make your safety and security programs more effective, the program needs ambassadors, staff.

Ambassadors need to be aware. Situationally aware.

Situational awareness training provides your staff with valuable intelligence & time when facing safety and security situations of potential harm or danger.

Being situation aware is truly a change in mindset.

It is a way of thinking that will focus a person’s behaviour, their outlook, and their mental attitude. People that are aware are no longer vulnerable but capable.

Capable individuals are always prepared. Capable individuals are not complacent, they use technology to enhance their preparedness and response and their planning always includes a contingency plan.

Situationally aware staff improve the effectiveness of your safety and security program.

Situationally aware individuals enhance the workplace and enhance their personal safety and security.

We can Help.

Plan the Work. Work the Plan.

Should your Municipality need assistance in Situation Awareness training, contact Michael White Group International today, and we will be happy to answer your questions.

Michael White Group International is Arcuri Group LLC approved Situation Awareness Specialist Certification Training provider.

 

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