What Strategies is Kansas City Using to Promote Customer Service?

The Council Goal for Customer Service is to: Create an internal culture that operationalizes the focus on the customer across all services provided by the City.

Below are the objectives from the current Citywide Business Plan that outline the specific strategies that the City is pursuing that relate to customer service. These objectives provide insight into the departments that are involved and the actions that are being taken.

Customer Service Provided by City Departments

The City's elected officials and appointed staff recognize that customers are at the center of everything that the city does, from the driver on a city street to the exercise class participant at a community center. The city's goal is to not only provide excellent customer service to individuals on a one-on-one basis, but also to create a culture where the customer is central to how the city approaches its operations. This means considering the impact on the customer when process improvements are made, thinking about how internal service areas impact customer service, and delegating decision-making to the front lines so that customers' issues can be resolved quickly and easily.

Assessing Quality

For each service request opened by 311 (approximately 100,000 per year), the customer has the chance to answer a survey rating the department's service and timeliness on a scale of 1 to 5. The city's customer service plan sets a goal that 85% of service and timeliness ratings will be a 3 (acceptable), 4 (good) or 5 (excellent). Currently, on a citywide basis, the city is meeting that goal.

Assessing Timeliness

In addition to measuring the customer's perception of timeliness via the survey (see Assessing Quality), the city also measures the timeliness of individual service requests compared to the service level agreements that departments have established for different request types. The measurement below tracks the percent of requests that are completed within their expected time-frame. In July 2015 the City implemented more specific measurements on service requests and updated the established time frames.

311 Call Center

The 311 Call Center was established as a centralized call center for many city services in 2007. In the time since then, 311 has received more than 400,000 calls per year, as well as emails, faxes, letters, web requests, and walk-in customers. 311 has also increased its service options since that time, including the additions of a mobile application (iOS, Android), a Twitter account, and bilingual call takers.

Assessing Customer Service

The survey that customers can fill out for each service request has a question asking them to rate the customer service from 311 on a 5 point scale. 311's goal is that 90% of these survey responses will be a 3 (acceptable), 4 (good), or excellent (5); this goal is currently being met.

Abandonment Rate

Abandonment rate is the percent of calls that hang up before they can reach an operator, often due to long wait times. This is an industry standard measure for call centers in the private and public sector. 311's abandonment rate is most related to fluctuating call volumes (for instance, it is as much as 3 times higher on Mondays compared with Thursdays or Fridays) as well as staff vacancy rates.

Citizen Satisfaction with 311 Call Center

In addition to gauging customer satisfaction with 311, the city is interested in general citizen perception of the service, which is measured via the citizen survey. Satisfaction has increased substantially since the question was first asked in fiscal year 2009-2010.

Citizen Use of 311 Call Center

The citizen survey can also be used to measure the percent of citizens who are utilizing the 311 service. The percent of citizens contacting 311 has more than doubled since 311's inception in 2007, to more than half of citizens. This makes it one of the most frequent forms of contact between citizens and the city.

Contacting 311

As discussed above, 311 has many methods of communication with citizens, including phone (311 or 816-513-1313), email ( 3-1-1.Call.Center@kcmo.org), website/mobile application, Twitter (@kcmo311), fax, mail, and walk-ins. For more information, please visit: http://kcmo.gov/311/

Internal Customer Service Between Departments

The Elevate KC survey also asked employees to answer questions regarding their satisfaction with customer service within the organization. As you can see in the chart below, 87% of employees feel that they know how to solve most customers’ problems without referring the customer to a supervisor. A slightly lower percentage of employees felt that customer service was a top priority of their department (77%) and that they are allowed to solve problems for their customers (75%).

This data came from the 2014 Elevate KC survey, an internal employee satisfaction survey.

KCStat Schedule

All Council priorities, including those in the area of Customer Service and Communication, are discussed at KCStat Meetings, which are public meetings held at City Hall and moderated by the Mayor and City Manager. Anyone from the public may attend, or follow the discussion via Twitter (#kcstat). Videos of KCStat meetings and meeting documents are archived online and can be accessed at kcmo.gov/kcstat. Customer Service and Communication is discussed at every KCStat session, but a specific sessions on this topic are listed below.