Chris Maddox Featured on GovLove Podcast

Chris Maddox (Twitter & LinkedIn), CEO of Seneca Systems (Website), maker of Romulus CRM, was featured on the GovLove podcast to talk about local government and technology.

In his GovLove episode, Chris talked about the process to create Romulus and what it’s like working with local governments. The conversation covered everything from his career in the tech sector to engaging citizens and creating a business environment to encourage the technology industry.

 

Introducing Public Form Attachments and “Number” Custom Fields

Today we’re excited to introduce two new features on Romulus.

Public Form Attachments

The first is attachments on public forms. Starting today, constituents can attach and submit files to your department’s public form. These will automatically be attached to the submitted case, right in your Romulus account.

Since Romulus forms are mobile responsive, these are a better alternative to expensive app development (which also have far lower engagement rates.)

 

“Number” Custom Field Types

We’re also introducing a new type of custom fields: Numbers. As you might have guessed, they enable your department to add custom fields that are specifically numbers. From there, you can easily filter and create SmartLists that work with those fields.

Check out the video below to learn more!

 

 

3 Metrics for Improving Constituent Satisfaction

Constituent success is a win-win partnership

Constituent success is a win-win partnership

At its core, the Romulus CRM helps public servants provide better constituent services. Satisfaction may seem like a fuzzy metric, but there are concrete steps that any government employee can take to improve every constituent interaction.

We strongly believe in data-driven democracy. This article will cover three crucial metrics behind phenomenal constituent services, as well as best practices and tips on how to improve them.

First Response Time

Constituent happiness positively correlates with increased responsiveness

Perceived responsiveness is significantly correlated with constituent happiness

How it’s measured: The time between when a request was submitted by the constituent and when the staff’s first communication occured.

Why it’s important: There is no worse feeling for a constituent than that they are shouting into the void. A quick first response reassures the citizen that their request has been heard and is being worked on.

Target: 1 hour.

You may see a lot of variation between requests, especially if you receive many after normal operating hours.

How to improve: Send a quick confirmation email confirming receipt of their issue and when they should expect to hear back next. By immediately demonstrating responsiveness, confirmation emails are an easy and comforting reassurance to constituents.

In Romulus, constituents are automatically sent confirmation emails as soon as the request is entered. This provides immediate positive feedback as well as a link for constituents to track the status of their request.

Average Time to Resolution

Public servants using Romulus have reduced the time it takes to resolve casework by over 73%.

Public servants using Romulus have reduced the time it takes to resolve casework by over 73%.

 

How it’s measured: The time between when a request was submitted and when the constituent was notified of its completion.

Why it’s important: While a quick first response is a great indication the level of service a citizen should expect, constituents care most about the end result.

Target: Varies based on request type.

How to improve: This is often the most difficult metric for local governments to improve. Oftentimes, requests and casework span multiple departments. By centralizing information in a CRM, teams drastically reduce communication overhead. Centralization also improves transparency, meaning other staff members can chime in if they have relevant context.

One feature which consistently ranks amongst Romulus users’ favorites is reminders: timed alerts to follow-up on constituent requests or to check in with a citizen. Instead of keeping every open case in memory, they feel safe knowing that Romulus will notify them when it is time to follow up.

Constituent Satisfaction

Everyone gets excited about data-driven democracy

Think of the children.

Also known as CSAT in private industry, Constituent Satisfaction tracks a constituent’s self-reported satisfaction with the service provided.

How it’s measured: Constituent satisfaction is measured by sending a survey to the constituent once a case is resolved. The survey has just one question:

How would you rate your overall satisfaction with the service you received?

The constituent is asked to answer based on a scale from 1-10, rating their level of (dis)satisfaction. The average of all responses is your Constituent Satisfaction score. These should be normalized to a scale of 100, so if your scale 1-10 then multiply your average by 10.

Why it is important: Constituent Satisfaction gives you a finger on the pulse of constituent services.

Target: >90.

If you start out lower than this, don’t worry. Having a baseline is the first step to improving your constituents’ satisfaction.
How to improve: The second rule of data-driven democracy: if you don’t know, ask. Every time a constituent gives a score below a 9, send them a follow-up asking what you can do to improve. Not only does this give you insight into how your team can provide better service, the constituent know you care about improving. That alone builds trust in a community.

Next Steps

Have other suggestions for measuring and improving constituent services? Reach out to us on Twitter or Facebook. We love hearing from users and local government leaders!

If you’re looking to improve your constituent services, sign up for a Romulus demo. Our trusted team Government Technology Advisors will be happy to answer any questions you have and explore if a CRM is a good fit for your team.

 

Cities and the Innovation Economy

In preparation for the Governing’s California Leadership Forum, ELGL has sent out a survey to gather community insight on the Innovation Economy. As a software startup which works directly with local governments, we are intimately connected with the Innovation Economy.

We are also believers of transparency—it is one of the five core values in our company—so we thought we should publicly respond to their survey on what cities can do to promote innovation. You should absolutely contribute your voice by taking the survey.

Should local government devote resources to encouraging the development of the Innovation Economy?

Absolutely!

Provide examples of deliberate policies that cities can pursue to support innovation.

1) Modernize purchasing processes for city departments.

Everyone wants to live and work around people who share their values. If you want to attract innovators, your city needs to engage and embrace them in its day-to-day activities.

If the city itself is stuck in the past, how could they possibly empathize with the practices and challenges of innovative businesses?

It is easiest to empathize with those you work closely with. No innovative company wants the hassle of antiquated RFPs, bureaucratic decision making (there should be one clear leader with the final decision), or expensive and drawn out contract processes. Make it easy for companies to help and they’ll jump at the opportunity.

We have talked about innovation and accountability in purchasing before both on this blog and elsewhere, so read those for more details.

Suffice to say that without embracing technology and advocating for innovation from within, innovative companies will be skeptical of cities’ calls for them to build nearby.

2) Define what you’re city is looking for.

What exactly do you mean by “the Innovation Economy”? It sounds like it would be hard to find anyone who is anti-innovation, but obviously some cities are more open to it than others.

Defining your values and making them public sends a strong signal for what’s important to you. Do you want companies that create jobs? Ones that improve government services? Healthcare? Biotech? Software startups?

Innovation can happen anywhere. We build Romulus in Redwood City because we know that the Bay Area has a strong focus on product innovation (and software in particular.) If we wanted to innovate in the financial industry or for federal government lobbying, we would probably go to New York City or Washington, D.C. respectively.

So define precisely the types of companies you are looking for. Yes, this means you will be ruling people out, but that is a good thing. You would much rather be the city for a certain field than mediocre at everything.

3) Sponsor Regulation-free periods to spur experimentation

Companies like AirBnB and Uber are controversial, especially with local governments, because they ignored many regulations that would have made their businesses impossible. Ignoring the law is not good, but we also wouldn’t like a world without Uber or AirBnB.

The truth is, AirBnB and Uber could both have been implemented by local governments. They provide access to flexible incomes and valuable city-wide public services. They should also be regulated, but starting with regulation and asking companies to innovate within those confines is impossible. You cannot create Uber under a medallion system.

Instead, run trial programs to test innovative ideas without regulating them first. See what the problems are, learn from them, and then build the regulatory framework for the successful ideas. Remember that innovation literally means something different from the status quo today. Asking companies to build tomorrow’s economies under today’s regulations is a catch–22.

What the biggest challenges facing cities that want to compete in the Innovation Economy?

1) Mismatched Values.

Innovation is a risk. You’re trying something new understanding that it may fail. Governments are about stability, so naturally have different motivations and means of operation than innovative companies. Learning to live together takes empathy and understanding.

If you’re asking businesses to take risks, you need to show them that you are a partner and not an antagonist. If they have to tackle an unknown venture and constantly worry that the government is going to be hounding them, it is too much. Companies are drawn to San Francisco and Austin as much by the culture as anything else. It’s one less risk, one less battle they have to fight. That can make all the difference.

2) Unclear goals and differentiators.

Why should innovative businesses come to your city? Sure, San Francisco or Austin are large cities, but take a look at Chattanooga or Kansas City. They made gigabit internet a priority—with public cheerleading for Google Fiber in Kansas City’s case and by building it themselves in Chattanooga—and are drawing interest from companies who need the bandwidth.

What are your goals? What unique value does your city provide? It isn’t enough just to want innovative companies. They need a compelling reason to choose you. As a wise friend once said, “if you want to be loved, you have to be lovable.”

Any final thoughts on the New Innovation Economy? What’s your call to action for cities?

Set out clear goals and values for yourself, then make them public. Once you do so, it will become clear to everyone where innovation fits in and how you stand out. Innovative businesses are not looking for you to be perfect, they just want to know that you understand who they are and making an effort to help them succeed.