Last week, local government officials and industry experts interested in the use of Customer Relationship Management/311 solutions to improve service delivery came together in Dallas for the Public Technology Institute seminar CRM Beyond the Hype.
 
The seminar examined the many policy, management, technical and governance aspects of successful CRM implementations, and included case study presentations by four PTI member local governments.
 
Throughout the seminar, a recurrent theme of utilizing CRM and call center data to improve citizen interaction and government accountability came through in each of the presentations and facilitated discussions. Other themes that were raised include:

  • For any CRM/call center initiative to be successful there must be a champion at the highest levels of government
  • Building relationships among the various government departments is vital (knocking down silos)
  • Providing adequate training for call center staff and making sure to document process and procedures
  • Integrating GIS and Web services with CRM programs is critical
  • Branding and marketing your 311 and citizen request for services initiative
  • Examining the data -- local governments have a wealth of information that has been collected through CRM. How can this data be analyzed and utilized to increase government performance? How do you share this information with other departments?
  • Be aware of any Freedom of Information and E-discovery issues with regard to information you have collected. These may impact the types of data you save and questions you ask when citizens call your center.Panel Discussion and Presentations

A mix of local government officials and solution providers participated in the opening panel discussion that set the stage for this seminar. Topics included strategies to overcome silo-based business processes, and overcoming barriers created by infrastructure towards implementing enterprise CRM solutions.
 
An overview of some of the market changes that is taking place in the government marketplace was also presented and discussed. Panel members included Michael Antash, Oracle Public Sector; Jim Carney, IBM Public Sector CRM Practice; Kristin M. Howlett, director of process improvement, DeKalb County Ga.; Jill Jordan, assistant city manager, City of Dallas; and Kenny Leverett, national sales director, Motorola Public Service Solutions.
 
The seminar then went through a series of presentations and case studies that examined the different aspects of CRM and customer-service technologies. Throughout the seminar, attendees were invited to ask questions and to dialog with presenters, panel members and other attendees.
 
Evelina Moulder, director of survey research for the International City/County Management Association (ICMA) presented the results of a national survey that documented the implementation of customer service systems and how local governments use these systems to respond to citizen needs and to strengthen community-constituent relations.
 
According to the survey results, 42 percent of responding U.S. local governments have either implemented a centralized customer service system (15 percent) or are considering adopting one (27 percent).
 
Richard M. Leadbeater, industry solutions manager for state government and trade associations, ESRI, talked about the integration of GIS with CRM and applications and business processes.

The aim is to increase interaction with the jurisdictions' citizens, and to make better decisions through enhanced techniques to better mine these applications for data.
 
The seminar then focused on the case studies, where officials representing four local governments outlined each of their CRM/311 initiatives. Each presentation included a timeline of their implementation efforts, success strategies, technology solutions they have implemented, organizational changes and operational impacts of CRM.
 
The case studies presented include:

  • CRM in the Public Sector: Transformational CRM for Local Government, Michael J. Major, director, 3-1-1 customer care operations, Chris Binnicker, CRM/ERS
  • manager, City and County of Denver.
  • 311 and CRM at the City of Albuquerque, Brian Osterloh, CRM applications development manager, City of Albuquerque N.M.
  • City of Dallas 311/911 Consolidation, Kenneth Gwynn, director of strategic customer services, City of Dallas
  • A Seamless Approach to Government Call Centers: Focusing on Service Delivery, Annie Leal, call center manager and interim director, E-government Services, Corpus Christi Texas, Susan Cable, Consultant, e.Services

Zachary Tumin, executive director, Leadership for a Networked World Program at the Kennedy School of Government, Harvard University, then presented an overview of the Kennedy School's research project on the future of 311-enabled performance systems and the transformation of government service.
 
The seminar concluded with a panel discussion that reviewed lessons learned from the previous discussions and presentations.
 
The seminar was co-sponsored by Oracle, ESRI, and Motorola. In addition, QScend Technologies Inc. and Applied GeoLogics Inc. demonstrated their CRM solutions at the seminar.
 
In early 2008, PTI will release a publication highlighting several local government case studies regarding CRM development and implementation. PTI is a national, non-profit technology organization created by and for cities and counties.