Proactive Notification is Smart Business

ARTICLE | Apr 18, 2011

Technology that pays for itself from the very first use

Past-due utility bills, overdue books, expiring licenses, citations going to warrant – these are just a few of the deadlines that your citizens face every day. Many of these are either ignored or forgotten, which means additional work for staff, reduced revenue for your agency, and frustration for citizens.

Incredibly, a simple reminder notification has proven to dramatically improve citizen responsiveness. In other words, a courtesy call, email or text message is often the “kick in the pants” that someone needs to take action to do business with their city or county.

Thornton, Colorado saw their utility shut-offs due to non-payment fall from 6,230 to 4,300 in just one year when they initiated a reminder call program to their overdue accounts. Even though every surrounding city was experiencing double digit increases in delinquencies, Thornton was making fewer shut-offs, collecting more revenue, and saving money.

Procrastination is one of a collection manager’s biggest hurdles, but reminder calls help to put city and county business at the top of “to do” lists. And the savings for your agency are often substantial, especially in light of budget and staffing pressures that are being felt in agencies across the country. “A simple automated phone call has been very effective and is going to help us avoid having to hire additional work crews for years to come…that is genuine time and money saved,” said Vicki Blackman of Manville Water Supply Corporation in Texas; the Utility was able to cut its lock list in half in their very first month of reminder calling last January.

Fewer shut-offs mean less service trips and fuel use, which is a big help for governments that are working to reach environmental goals. In Palm Coast, Florida, the Utility’s outbound past-due reminder system has helped the City go paperless. The City has discontinued its paper mailing program, eliminating 6,500 paper mailings per month. Not only does this save Palm Coast $37,700 annually in paper and postage, but it has also helped the City advance its “go green” initiatives.

Many other government functions are seeing significant results from outbound notifications as well. Courts are being pushed hard to resolve more cases and collect on more citations. “Outbound calling has become critical to our business process and is helping us to advance our collection goals,” said Carol Arnold, the Court Administrator in College Station, Texas. College Station has successfully used outbound call-outs to reduce the number of warrants served, saving City marshals and staff valuable time in resolving outstanding cases and collecting payments.

Beyond citation collection and pre-warrant notices, many courts are using reminders to cut down on missed court appearances and avoid the confusion associated with schedule changes for defendants, witnesses, jurors, and officers. Earlier this year, the Municipal Court in Irving, Texas began call-outs to defendants prior to their initial appearance date, and the results were impressive, as “no shows” have declined by over 30%.

“Because the reminders are so effective and very affordable, we are now making almost a dozen different call-outs in several different departments,” said John Adams, a Business Analyst at Irving. Irving’s Public Library is using the notification system to send overdue book notices but also to let people know that their books on-hold have arrived. The automated message tells them the name of the book and the date their hold is good until. Citizens are grateful for the timely notification, and library staff have seen a major drop in service calls to the desk with people looking for information. Irving is now making 60,000 reminder calls to its citizens each month.

Outbound notifications are helping to shape a new wave of electronic government that uses technology to push valuable and timely information to its citizens. The uses are seemingly infinite – payment reminders, water usage restrictions, building inspection approvals, service appointments, weather alerts, boil water notices, and many more. Proactive notifications drive action. They help governments save money, reduce hiring needs, and deliver better service; they are just smart business.

For more than 20 years, Tele-Works has been a leader in delivering top-quality voice, web and notification solutions across North America. Our products have reshaped the way organizations communicate and transact business with their customers. From automated phone bill payments to high-volume citizen alert systems, Tele-Works’ solutions are proven to help create more efficient governments and ensure citizen satisfaction.

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