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Tech Insights 6 min read

How can cities use CRM to increase citizen engagement?

For local governance to be efficient, citizens must be at its forefront. Increasing citizen engagement is critical to making local government more productive, democratic, and thus better equipped to serve its community. As a result, increasing public involvement in local government operations is playing an ever-bigger role for enhancing the lives of residents. As a result of cumbersome internal processes, the prior challenge was that people were not always presented with a transparent process in their citizen request management solutions. This was caused by municipal asset monitoring taking precedence over citizen request management. CRM systems have since been created with citizens in mind to address this issue, making them more likely to promote engagement.

Let’s define citizen engagement

It is a way for people to get involved with their governments. Any step of municipal government policy creation or execution, as well as public service requests and local events, can trigger this need for communication. Individual citizens' participation in policy or program creation, as well as any affairs pertaining to the city, is referred to as citizen engagement. When citizens actively participate in identifying their concerns, providing feedback, and offering solutions or action priorities, they are said to be "engaged."

The positive outcome is that these individuals will in turn advocate for and help make public institutions more open and accountable while also enabling the creation of new solutions to issues within their communities. Facts show that citizen engagement does help governments improve overall development projects by establishing relationships between citizen participation and improved public service delivery, which results in better social inclusion, establishing a higher level of trust in their institutions.

It is possible for citizens to participate in a variety of ways, from serving on advisory bodies to partnering with community organizations to help solve a specific issue. With a citizen request management solution, local governments and citizens can better communicate and respond to the demands of their respective organizations, circumstances, and audiences, resulting in better outcomes for all parties involved.

Make it easier for citizens and city officials to communicate with one other

Given the importance of encouraging individuals to become more engaged with their own local democracy, government officials should proactively seek out their opinions, even though engaging with citizens has always had its challenges. Many people are not engaged in politics because they are either too busy or lack trust in their ability to participate in conventional means of citizen engagement such as town hall meetings. Fortunately, that can now all get better, thanks to digital technology, which has become more widely available than ever in recent years.

Known as "citizen request management solutions," these technologies aim to streamline and optimize communication between individuals and their municipal authorities. A more efficient execution of the people's will can be achieved by reducing the time it takes for citizens to provide input on laws and policies, which will get them more engaged and more satisfied. CRM solutions have been optimized for the web and mobile so that users may submit instant feedback and provide their recommendations regarding their city. Having access to a mobile app or a web-enabled device is all they need to make their voices heard. When individuals can share their opinions on the go, citizen engagement projects have the potential to attract a substantially larger percentage of the population than traditional methods.

Reaching the city staff, known as 311 agents - who are responsible for handling citizen requests, would no longer be restricted to a short window during the opening hours of their offices, via phone or in person. Thanks to CRM systems, multi-channel interactions are now available for every citizen: SMS text messages, emails, chatbots, leaving voicemail, and even walk-ins are now all on equal footing. A CRM system has the ability to manage all of these incoming channels. Of course, to encourage citizen engagement, a question demands an answer. 311 agents will be able to respond to all residents' original communication channels thanks to a single user interface. It does not matter if the request was made by phone or email; the response will adapt to the citizen's preferred means of communication. Citizen request management solutions cover every type of communication used by the population.

Every city is unique. For a citizen request management system to be efficient, it must be adaptable to a wide range of conditions. If you were to deal with endless street construction, light malfunctions, and other concerns people may have in a big city, how would you handle all of the service requests in a timely fashion? The modern citizen has high expectations for the public sector organizations that assist them. To achieve this, it is essential to automate interaction and convey the information to the user without delay. Citizen request management solutions benefit from automated workflows, which make it easier for the government to communicate with individuals who have made a service request. In today's digital world, citizens may take part in public meetings through live streaming, offer their thoughts on proposed legislation, voice suggestions on how the city might improve its services, and, most significantly, receive automatic updates on the status of their requests.

Using technology to improve citizen engagement

It might be difficult to meet the expectations of both citizens and the government at the same time due to the rising demand for more contemporary and transparent digital services, as well as the limited funds to provide those. However, approaches that implement citizens at the core of their processes will make them feel better treated and more inclined to participate in improving their cities. Technology and Software-as-a-Service (SaaS) platforms are increasingly being used by municipalities to address these issues. Cloud-based SaaS solutions for cities give a range of benefits for reaching and engaging residents, but they also bring major additional benefits, such as cost savings and database security upgrades.

There are new types of gadgets and new methods for connecting in a world that changes as quickly as the devices we use. This has had a significant influence on the operations of all organizations, both commercial and public, including operations in the areas of knowledge management and public participation. Information being hosted on the cloud facilitates cooperation by guaranteeing adequate connectivity between the many channels of communication on our numerous devices. The simplicity and accessibility that cloud computing provides, benefits elected leaders, 311 agents, and residents alike. Anyone with an internet connection can use these online services to help improve their cities.

Additionally, a cloud-based citizen request management solution combines all the procedures that a municipality would need to ensure effective citizen engagement on a daily basis. City workers and management may safely store, safeguard, and retrieve critical data within a centralized system, while having fully manageable access to it across the network. Before, 311 agents could easily become lost in the cluster of service requests for the same issue when they did not have access to all the procedures in digital form. However, SaaS CRM solutions for cities help eliminate duplicate requests and make it much easier for city staff to fulfill their obligations. Thanks to this, public trust and citizen involvement has an opportunity to rise as government teams become better equipped to respond more efficiently to service requests.

Another key feature of a cloud-based citizen request management solution is the ability to retrieve the history of all the requests that have been made. Public trust in government was damaged in the past by the time and effort required to locate paper-based citizen requests across several departments, locations, and filing cabinets. CRM solutions, on the other hand, now make it simple to see a complete history of all requests within the same database. To ensure better follow-ups and communication, this guarantees that no data is lost or misplaced along the way, which may have otherwise led individuals to believe that their contribution was unimportant. Technology is here to make our lives simpler, and the process of citizens' requests should not be left out of reaping its benefits.

Get started today: Need help to accelerate your e-transformation? Take an appointment with our consultants

Your 311 agents' productivity will soar if you provide them with the best tools possible, and your city's development will benefit from encouraging citizen engagement. Based on the Microsoft Dynamics 365 platform, Gestisoft's Civio 365 application allows you to consolidate information about citizen requests, create new channels of communication with stakeholders, and provide a self-service platform for your residents to engage with. All of this contributes to providing your community with a greater level of service and encouraging your citizens to become more involved in the development of the city.

Make use of our sophisticated citizen request management solution, which is tailored to the needs of cities and their people, as well as the extensive knowledge and skills of our professionals. Contact us today to begin the e-transformation for your city.

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February 14, 2022 by Frédéric Charest VP of Marketing

Data-driven Growth Marketer with a Passion for SEO - Driving Results through Analytics and Optimization