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Work Smarter and Faster: New Call Center Technology Cuts Response Time to Mere Seconds

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by Brian Watson, Director’s Assistant, Local Government Solutions, IBTS

Brian Watson from the Institute for Building Technology and Safety (IBTS) shares his insights on how even small local governments can improve service delivery through new call center technology.

For many small, local governments, the only answer to day-to-day challenges is innovation. Municipalities are faced with challenges due to lack of resources and high demand from residents and businesses. To combat this, new technology solutions are available to ease the burden on governments of all sizes and improve the response times to community members. This allows them to work smarter and faster.

Guymon, Oklahoma, is the largest city in the strip of land known as the Panhandle, formerly referred to as “No Man’s Land.” The City of Guymon has an estimated population of 14,000 people and serves as the county seat of Texas County. Like many other cities its size, Guymon faced three critical problems:

  • The increasing number of demands on city administrators and their staffs
  • The rising complexity involving the production of services
  • The decreasing intake of taxable income from its revenue sources

The majority of the United States is made up of small to medium-sized jurisdictions, like Guymon. These are the communities that could most readily benefit from innovative technology solutions in order to stay relevant. Without it, communities could potentially see a decrease in population size, which leads to a loss of tax revenue. This is exactly what the City of Guymon was facing and what they sought to repair.

Improving Response Time and Quality

One of the biggest issues that the City was looking to address was the lack of customer service response to the residential and business community. Because Guymon did not have a dedicated department available to handle the large influx of calls, many questions and concerns from community members went unanswered. To correct this issue, City officials searched for a solution that would allow them the opportunity to prioritize, organize, and communicate requests by residents and community stakeholders.

The former City Manager and current Mayor of Guymon championed this effort and decided to enter into a partnership with a third party provider to set up a customer service oriented smart technology in the form of a Call Center. The organization-wide Call Center technology was implemented over a three-month period, which allowed time for the software to be uploaded with specific information from each department, such as employees’ names and positions, commonly asked questions from residents, and types of equipment and vehicles utilized. These specific sets of information enabled the software to better understand the services that the City provided and what it was that the citizens’ were requesting.

A work order software system was installed alongside the Call Center in order to:

  1. Generate reports on the exact amount of calls received by the City
  2. Determine how many work orders were received
  3. Identify how many are open
  4. Log what calls have been closed
  5. Monitor progress of the work.

Additionally, this system sends City officials reports relative to what type of work was requested, how much material was used, the labor requirements on each work order, and in what Council ward the work was performed. The overall outcome of this software system is a more organized, productive workforce that is now able to reduce both labor and material costs by not having to stop tasks as calls come through. This was achieved by training Call Center technicians to handle each department’s work order requests while also answering any basic questions addressed to the department. The ability of the Call Center to answer calls, place work orders, and return calls to community residents is invaluable because of the time and labor that it saves each department.

Results of Implementation

As a result of implementing this call center technology, the City of Guymon’s departments were able to meet their demands for:

  • Management of assets
  • Customer requests
  • Preventative maintenance schedules
  • Resources and inventory tracking
  • Best practices
  • Regulatory compliance.

Measures of Success

Community members measured the project’s success by:

  • How quickly the Call Center phones were picked up
  • How quickly they received the requested information
  • How responsive the department employees were to their needs
  • Whether they received a follow-up call on the status of their requests.

City residents were pleased with the new customer service capabilities of their local government and could now engage with a live professional 24/7. The information being requested was only a mouse click away for the Call Center technicians, cutting call response time from minutes to now mere seconds. The implementation of the Customer Service Call Center technology in Guymon, OK, has allowed the City to manage requests from residents and businesses with the same, if not better, technologies as larger jurisdictions.

About the Author

IBTS is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization committed to helping communities through quality services that reduce risk, enhance public safety, and improve quality of life. IBTS assists municipalities with efficient service delivery through public-non-profit partnerships and regional service agreements, offering the following services: Building and Community Development, Energy and Sustainability Services, Disaster Planning and Recovery, Quality Assurance, as well as Compliance and Risk Monitoring. IBTS’s work is guided by a Board of Directors made up of government officials appointed by five of the most highly respected state and local governmental associations, including the Council of State Governments (CSG), International City/County Management Association (ICMA), National Association of Counties (NACo), National Governors Association Center for Best Practices (NGA Center), and National League of Cities (NLC). For more information, please visit www.ibts.org.

The Institute for Building Technology and Safety (IBTS) 
Brian Watson, Local Government Solutions
45207 Research Pl.
Ashburn, VA 20147 
bdwatson@ibts.org
703.481.2000

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