With lean staffs and budget restrictions, public works departments across the country are searching for strategies to help them manage their demanding workloads. Automated 311 and citizen request management solutions like SeeClickFix can help. When you leverage powerful technology, you have more power here than you think. Here are nine reasons why.
Mind Your Marketing
Think “type and timing.” If you’re worried about an influx of requests once your citizens have access to SeeClickFix, prepare for a slow roll-out. You may need to adjust your initial plans to announce the system launch on Facebook, Twitter, and at upcoming council meetings. Instead, consider announcing the launch at the council meeting during week one, announce on Facebook week three, and announce on Twitter week five. A slow rollout puts you in control of the increased number of citizen requests and you can adjust your schedule based on the pace and your field team's ability to respond.
Communicate Which Request Types You are Currently Accepting
Expecting a storm? Consider deactivating all other request types, including those out of season, like leaf pick-ups to help your citizens quickly find the category they need urgently. If you're concerned that citizens will only see a few request types and worry that their municipality does not offer other non-listed services, you can add a banner message on your app to explain the seasonality of your request type. Your message might state, “Community Name will prioritize pothole filling requests between the dates of X and X.”
To further enhance your communications, you can send a notice to inform residents of your department’s focus.
Acknowledge and Set Expectations
So much assurance lies in these two actions and leaves the resident feeling heard and informed. Even if you can’t fix the resident’s issue timely, it’s vital to let them know they’ve been heard and to give an expectation of when you can fix their issue.
Looking to streamline timelines that are communicated to residents? Create canned messages to help you acknowledge requests quickly and with little variance.
Set Service Level Agreements (SLA)
SLAs are internal goals that residents do not see. Set SLAs that make sense for each request type, e.g., six days or 10 days. You’ll see your SLAs on SeeClickFix's Report tab, and can increase or decrease that SLA window as necessary.
Using the Map in SeeClickFix, view requests by geographic region. If you have a team member fixing potholes in the downtown area, the map will help them address other requests along the way.
Use Reports to Determine Overwhelmed Workers
Your data can give you a warning of who might be taking on too much work within your department. If a team member is consistently unable to meet the SLA, it’s a good time to discuss hurdles and remove barriers, or reassess the SLA.
Recategorize Long-Term Projects
Some issues might seem like a quick fix to a resident, but they’re not. A resident might see a pothole, but the public works director instead sees a stretch of road that is set for resurfacing in the coming Spring. In SeeClickFix you can recategorize these issues to a Request Type of “Long Term Project/Capital Project” to safely store them in the system, while communicating to the resident that this is part of a longer-term repair.
Connect with Your Top Users
Every community has a portion of residents that will submit issues more than others. If this is concerning to you, we suggest going back to basics. Offering a conversation with these individuals can remind them (or inform them) that you have a lean team handling the municipality's workload. A small amount of time spent explaining your process can help improve citizen relationships and trust.
Show Your Work
You don’t need to make requests public, but the functionality exists for a reason. Showing your residents your workload is an upfront way of maintaining transparency and informing them of your department's efforts and priorities. It can also help to reduce duplicate requests from the public. The bottom line is, we all have efforts we wish we could complete in our lives—but where limitations exist, the skill of prioritizing must also exist.