The Town of Gilbert, Arizona is fast. Really fast. Over the last year, the town cut its 311 request acknowledgment time in half — dropping from 1.2 days to 0.6 days. Its time to close a request has also dropped dramatically — falling from 9.6 days to 7 days.
Before we had SeeClickFix, residents would call customer service, who would call the police, who would call public works. Now, the request instantly goes to public works because of SeeClickFix’s automated workflows. — Melissa Cannon, Community Engagement Coordinator
This, of course, makes residents happy. It also has benefits for the town. When residents see that their requests are acknowledged quickly on SeeClickFix (which is branded locally as Gilbert 311), they make fewer 311 phone calls and send fewer follow up emails.
Gilbert is no stranger to innovation having just won the Center for Digital Government’s (CDG) City Government-to-Citizen Experience Award for its open data platform. So how did Gilbert drastically reduce its response times?
Internal Communication and Friendly Competition
Departments within the Town of Gilbert are in friendly competition with one another to acknowledge and close non-emergency issues quickly. Melissa Cannon, Community Engagement Coordinator, sends out monthly emails with the latest numbers from SeeClickFix so each department can see how they stack up.
Melissa reaches out directly if the numbers lag for a given department or if she notices that a request has gone unacknowledged for a few days. She’s careful to take a supportive tone, looking to be helpful in identifying roadblocks. “I try to find out if the issue is something their department can do,” she says, “or if it’s not actually the Town’s responsibility, or if they need more information.”
The Human Touch
Though powerful citizen request management software facilitates faster responses, the focus is on the human touch. The staff is encouraged to respond in a conversational way. “We have you on our schedule today, so you should be squared away by 5:00 PM,” reads one recent reply from the Trash and Recycling team.
Last summer, Gilbert also held refreshers for each department on how to close a request and keep it from lingering in the system. By focusing on the first and last steps of the process — acknowledgment and closure — they have been able to provide metrics that all departments can relate to.
Melissa and her team rely on rich data from SeeClickFix to drive the competition. Running all requests through the platform allows Melissa to export reports easily that show how the town and its departments are doing.
It’s not just the competitive spirit that has pushed response times down. SeeClickFix has simplified the request and acknowledgment process. “Before we had SeeClickFix,” says Melissa, “residents would call customer service, who would call the police, who would call public works. Now, the request instantly goes to public works.”
As a result, the number of calls and emails to customer service has gone down significantly, which has saved the town money. Melissa says the calls coming in these days are complicated issues like code compliance that really do require a conversation with a knowledgeable human to sort them out. Before SeeClickFix, customer service often fielded multiple calls and follow-ups about the same minor issue. Residents prefer the more streamlined system too. Data from a survey Gilbert conducted shows an overwhelmingly positive response to reporting issues via SeeClickFix.
Beyond Issues: Crowdsourcing Community Data
Now that residents are used to using SeeClickFix to submit requests, Gilbert has begun asking residents for help gathering geographic data about the community.
Gilbert kicked off this initiative by asking residents to submit photos of bike racks so that the town could map their locations and provide this information to the public through their open data portal. The project went very well.