• January 1, 2007
  • By Coreen Bailor, (former) Associate Editor, CRM Magazine

When Disaster Doesn't Strike

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The importance of 911 is undeniable: Crime, life-threatening situations, and emergencies are inescapable, so for a large city like Minneapolis, not having a centralized number for accessing services and information increases nonemergency calls to the City's 911 call center. The City had been receiving about 16,000 calls daily through touch points like call centers, voice response units, and land lines; 20 percent to 30 percent of calls (depending on the department) were misrouted--the police department alone reported that between 60 percent and 85 percent of its calls were misdirects. Minneapolis's Blue Pages listings had more than 270 phone numbers listed, but even that didn't help citizens find information more easily. "A lot of times it was just really confusing as to who [citizens] should call," says Don Stickney, assistant director for Minneapolis 311. The City's nonemergency call services were also grappling with inconsistent hours of operation, tracking methods, and service standards, according to Stickney. Overall, obtaining the desired information became such a frustrating experience that callers abandoned about 1,400 calls per day. Minneapolis evaluated the benefits of launching a 311 system by having the mayor and council members visit 311 operations in cities like Baltimore and Chicago. The City decided to implement its own 311 system, but made several business process improvements and engaged in several tech projects, including implementing a new call center switch, call center management software, and scheduling and forecasting capabilities. To support the 311 project Minneapolis also needed a CRM component. The City wanted a flexible solution with a high ease of usability factor for agents. The system also needed integrated knowledge base capabilities and had to integrate with the City's legacy systems. Minneapolis launched the Frontlink CRM (citizen relationship management) solution from Lagan Technologies, an enterprise software provider specializing in the public sector. The open standards--based solution was deployed across the enterprise. Unisys served as system integrator and hosts the solution at its outsourcing service center in Eagan, MN. Minneapolis 311 went live January 4. "We're looking to make 911 and 311 the two portals to the City of Minneapolis," Stickney says. Minneapolis 311 allows citizens to interact with the City through touch points that include phone, email, Web, mail, fax, and face to face. "Lagan's Frontlink CRM solution enables municipalities to efficiently track and respond to citizen requests so that the same high level of service can be delivered to the citizen consistently," says Tom Mazur, vice president of North American sales at Lagan. "Additionally, Lagan's Frontlink CRM solution enables easy integration to departmental systems so that requests that need to be submitted to the back office can be done in an efficient, transparent manner." Minneapolis 311 handles about 1,500 voice calls and about 150 emails daily. Between 55,000 and 60,000 service requests have been entered into Frontlink. "We use the scripting capability in the Lagan Frontlink solution to help our agents make sure that they ask all the right questions and provide the right information," Stickney says. Since launching Minneapolis 311, the first call resolution rate has steadily gone up, from 60 percent in January to 69 percent in April to 72 percent in September. It has also maintained an impressive average service level of 90 percent of calls answered within 20 seconds. "We very much want to be easily accessible to the citizens and residents of the City," Stickney says. The Payoff Since launching Minneapolis 311, the City:
  • improved FCR to 72 percent in nine months;
  • maintained a 90/20 service level;
  • has a separate, centralized system for nonemergency inquiries; and
  • can track service requests and Minneapolis's response.
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