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GCN : July 2015
30 GCN JULY 2015 • GCN.COM and enter their own service orders and then track them. The system sends au- tomatic email alerts when orders are set up and as they are completed. “We’ll be able to do a 360-degree, close-the-loop process with citizens so they don’t have to call us back to see if what they requested got done,” Radoff said. Tulsa’s 311 system will also have in- teractive voice response (IVR) with as many as 38 self-service paths for call- ers to follow for smaller issues such as missed trash pickups and payments. “That’s really going to drive down call volume that comes in to our agents [and] drive up efficiency for us,” Radoff said. Additionally, when someone who has set up a profile calls 311, that caller’s information will pop up on an agent’s screen via computer telephony integra- tion (CTI), which means agents don’t have to spend time confirming the per- son and the request. “I’m expecting to save 20 to 30 sec- onds per call just by having a CTI screen pop in place,” Radoff added. The system also includes a mobile app through which users can submit photographs of problems such as graf- fiti. Those submissions will be linked to their profiles and tagged with GPS data so officials can locate the problem more quickly. “The real unique challenge of mod- ern 311 call centers is that even though they’re branded as 311, it’s so much more than a phone number,” said Steve Carter, senior director of public-sector accounts at KANA. To provide context- aware knowledge, 311 systems must be able to tap the right knowledge base, manage the agents’ computers and combine scripting and search. Additionally, Tulsa is launching reac- tive and proactive chat services. Reac- tive chat means users click on an icon to launch a chat session with an agent, while proactive chat lets agents engage with people they suspect need help finding information or locating serv- ices, Radoff said. “For example, on our permits page, if we see a citizen who’s been hunting around to find the right permit form to fill out so that they can start a project, we would like to be able to pop in and say, ‘Hey, we see you’re looking for a permit. What kind of project are you trying to get done and we’ll tell you what we need to do.’” The LAGAN Enterprise from KANA cost the city about $980,000, and the 311 phone exchange will likely cost $3,000 to $4,000 per month depend- ing on call volume, Radoff said. But the savings will be significant, he added. For instance, the IVR system should re- duce call volume by 30 percent. “Take our call volume, which is in the 550,000 to 600,000 range per year, and if you can drop 30 percent of those calls off, that’s [more than] 150,000 calls,” he said. “That’s about three and a half to four minutes per call. That adds up to a lot of money very quickly.” • CUSTOMER SERVICE To overhaul the city’s customer service, the mayor of Tulsa, Okla., asked Michael Radoff for help. After all, he had 35 years of experience helping Fortune 500 companies consolidate customer service operations. Before taking his first public-sector job as director of Tulsa’s Customer Care Center two and a half years ago, Radoff was part of a team that handled the national consolidation of customer service operations for Gannett. He found shepherding a project in the government to be quite different. “There were a lot more experts within corporate who really knew a lot about the components that we needed to implement,” Radoff said. “You really had a much broader support team than what I’ve seen in government.” The government’s existing technology also tends to be older. For instance, Tulsa has systems that date to the 1970s, and that makes upgrades more challenging, he said. Additionally, the procurement process is slower in the public sector, and as a result, implementing the new 311 system is taking longer than Radoff anticipated. “I really thought we’d be up and running on this system eight or nine months ago, but the procurement process alone took us a year and a half to get through,” he added. Based on his experiences, he said many cities would benefit from recruiting private-sector experts to help with projects. “You need to bring some people in from the corporate world” because they can have a different perspective, Radoff said. In the private sector, “if I had something that had [a return on investment] of 20 percent on it, whether it was in the capital plan or not, I got an instant green light. Those are not the driving factors that let you do things [in government]. You can use those to help you sell your case, but there are a lot of other things that go on in the background before decisions are made.” — Stephanie Kanowitz Michael Radoff: A public/private perspective 0715gcn_029-030.indd 30 6/29/15 2:14 PM