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Eleven Innovative Ways to Use Your 311 and CRM To Better Serve Your Citizens

Written by Kelly Cook

Real examples of efficient government delivery from modern communities.

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311 and citizen request management systems are designed to help municipalities better serve their citizens, and no one knows better than you, that service comes in many forms. If you’re using your 311 and CRM primarily to receive and respond to service requests, such as downed trees and streetlight repairs, you’re missing critical opportunities to leverage your system’s infrastructure to accomplish a wide variety of municipal administrations. To inspire you to maximize your solution investment, here are eleven innovative ways you can use your 311 and CRM, based on what smart cities and counties like yours are doing today.

  1. 1. Water Meter Checks. If you’re only allowing your citizens to self-report their water meter readings by calling your public works office, then you’re restricting citizens to a nine-to-five widow and relying on a staff member to respond to phone calls and record data manually. Allowing citizens to self-report their water meter reading via a mobile-optimized web form on your website that sends information directly to your public works database frees up time and effort for both citizens and staff.
  1. 2. Reporting of Non-Conforming Signs. Municipalities that are in the process of adopting a new sign ordinance or provisions must ensure all non-confirming signs are removed and replaced timely. Allow citizens to help by reporting such outdated signage when they see them. A modern 311 and CRM will allow citizens to submit a geotagged photo from their mobile device by text or email—when the sign is top-of-mind and relevant.
  1. 3. Swimming Pool Membership Applications. If you don’t yet have a comprehensive recreation management software, you can accept and process memberships, such as for your local pool, via your 311 and CRM. 
  1. 4. Event Registrations. From haunted hayrides in the Fall to pie-eating contests in the Summer, your community never stops offering the types of events that bring people together. A 311 and CRM makes it easy for citizens to sign up via online forms, anytime, anywhere, from any device. Event planners benefit from on-demand registration data, and the ability to create a list of citizens to notify if your Memorial Day parade is rain-delayed.
  1. 5. Building Plan Review Submissions. Your 311 and CRM can not only help you better serve your residents but your local businesses. Allow local entities to submit their building plan review documentation to your administration. Your 311 and CRM can be configured to automatically route the submission to the proper department for review and response.
  1. 6. Open Records Requests. Every municipality must be responsive to citizen requests for public records. When such requests present themselves in the form of phone calls or walk-ins, however, they can disrupt your staff’s day-to-day tasks. By allowing citizens to submit requests via your 311 and CRM, administrators can respond timely, but without interrupting in-progress work.
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  3. 7. Civic Inquiries. One of the most significant frustrations that citizens mention when asked about civic engagement is that they are often unsure whom to contact—or how—when they have a simple question. For some citizens, navigating through pages of website content can be frustrating. Others aren’t sure which department is responsible for the information they need. Citizens shouldn’t have to work hard to obtain the necessary information from their municipality. They should be able to navigate to one web page and fill out a general request for information form to ask, “Where can I obtain a marriage license?” And receive a prompt reply. A 311 and CRM makes this critical, simple interaction possible.
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  5. 8. Vacation Watch Requests. If your public safety department facilitates a vacation watch program, allow citizens to submit their requests for patrol during their vacation using your 311 and CRM. If your software has built-in citizen communication features, your citizens will know that their civic leaders have received their request, and their home will be monitored while they are away—giving them peace of mind.
  1. 9. Recycle Bin Delivery Requests. Protecting our planet is everyone’s responsibility. Local governments should support and enable citizens who are motivated to do their part by making it easy to request and receive an additional recycle bin. Your 311 and CRM can help. Similarly, your 311 and CRM can be used to coordinate requests for bin pick-ups when residents move out of the area, helping to return materials for reuse.
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  3. 10. Missed Trash Pick-Ups. If a resident inadvertently misses the opportunity to have your public works crew collect his/her trash, how do you facilitate return requests? Asking sanitation crew managers to receive and coordinate such requests manually takes time away from other responsibilities. If you accept requests via your modern 311 and CRM, however, crews can view all requests on a map and can plan a logical, and time-efficient route to recover missed pick-ups.
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  5. 11. Feedback on Civic Development Projects. How does your community gain citizen input on significant projects and proposals that will impact your shared community? If you are reliant upon feedback from those who attend public meetings, then you only hear from a small portion of your population, and likely within that group, a small number of the same voices. A 311 and CRM with built-in citizen engagement functionality will allow you to gather, analyze, and respond to citizen sentiments on local initiatives, whether it is praiseworthy or constructive. With such a mechanism, feedback is never lost and can be used to inform local policy decisions.

CP Connect from CivicPlus allows municipalities to associate citizen feedback that doesn’t require immediate action with community issue reports so that citizen insights are never lost, easily empowering local leaders to assess hot button issues across the city.