Across the United States, cities use a variety of systems to handle daily service requests and complaints from their customers. By learning some of the essential elements that are key to a successful system, you can plan such a system based on your city’s needs and resources.
Many towns still use manual systems, but the emphasis here is on computerization. Automated service request systems are proven to be cost-effective, labor-saving devices that greatly enhance management efficiency. There are a number of commercial software packages available that are PC- or server-based. Another option is a hosted or web-based solution. A few of the software vendors are listed later in this section.
Creating an Effective Service Request Procedure
For a service request procedure to be effective, you should answer the following key questions:
- Who takes and records the calls? Who takes the information when a citizen drops by city hall?
- How is each request assigned to the appropriate department, and who does it?
- When and how does the city respond to the citizen concerning the request? How many times is the citizen contacted (for example, a letter to the citizen acknowledging the request, a status report, and a note upon completion) concerning the status of the request?
- Does the citizen have an opportunity to assess city hall's performance?
- Who is responsible for monitoring the status of each request and complaint? Is a status report generated listing open concerns?