The Government Will See You Now: A Private Sector Solution for Public Sector Problems

There’s a long-standing belief out there that governments, and government websites in particular, could do a better job of providing access and information to the public. Fueled by their experiences with private industry, citizens no longer have the patience for anything less than immediate access to information and total visibility into the status of their inquiries. This can be a high standard to meet, especially for smaller governmental bodies, but the truth is these expectations are justified.

Here’s how a few forward-thinking government agencies are modernizing the way they do business and easing the customer journey in an effort to improve relations with their constituents.

The city council for Sunderland in the United Kingdom handles more than 700 separate services for its 280,000 citizens. Until recently, attempts to reach the correct city personnel required numerous calls, and citizens had to repeat their basic information and reason for calling each time. The process needed to be streamlined, but without reducing the number of services offered.

The city council found a solution in customer relationship management (CRM) tools that allow agents at the first point of contact to quickly confirm the caller’s needs and transfer the inquiry and pertinent personal data to the proper department. Multiple requests can be made in one call, and city employees can check on the status of any inquiry regardless of department.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, in the United States, the manual processing of individual event permits rapidly became outdated when the 2012 Democratic National Convention rolled into town, bringing with it 35,000 delegates and attendees. The city needed both automation and the ability to affordably handle large volumes of traffic—and a long deployment timeframe was out of the question.

Opting for a scalable, cloud-based, and self-service permitting portal was the clever choice. Now when large events are hosted in Charlotte, extra server space can quickly be allotted to meet demand. Equally helpful is the new central event management knowledge base, which allows city employees to quickly answer event-related questions and save past event parameters for the next time an organization comes to town.

From water to electricity to waste removal, every department in the US city of Grand Rapids, Michigan has long striven to put the people first. The problem was, each department had worked out its own system over time, resulting in longer hold times and higher administrative costs across the board.

Declaring “One Call to City Hall” their new motto, local authorities replaced their disparate old systems with a unified, CRM-driven solution they call Grand Rapids 311. Now citizens and staff have access to a unified knowledge base covering all departments. Since their CRM implementation began, Grand Rapids has seen answer times plummet from 6 minutes to 22 seconds, leading to a budgetary savings of more than $600,000 in the solution's second year.

From public safety to healthcare and education, government entities now have access to tools capable of easing public access to services and streamlining workflows to the highest private sector standards. If you’re looking for a solution that can reduce stress for your citizens while helping your department be leaner and more responsive, check out the tools available from Microsoft Dynamics CRM. And for a more in-depth perspective, read our white paper, Engaging and Serving Citizens.