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Setting Up Success for Service Saskatoon

May 27, 2016 - 2:07pm

Pictured above are members of the team from the Public Works and Service Saskatoon Divisions. From left to right (front row kneeling): Rod Andal, Russ Munro; (middle row): Lana Dodds, Jessica Ertell, Mike Brophy, Debbie Folk, Carla Figg; and (back row): Ruth Wutzke, Maureen Mostoway, Pat Hyde.

Providing high quality services to meet the dynamic and high expectations of our citizens has always been important to the City of Saskatoon (City) in striving to meet the Strategic Goal of “A Culture of Continuous Improvement”.

Service Saskatoon, the City’s new and improved model of service delivery, was launched in April 2016. The initiative focuses on modifying how the City delivers front line services, responds to requests, and improves service delivery into the future.

“Service Saskatoon is really about changing the way we provide customer service at the City,” said Pat Hyde, Director, Service Saskatoon. “The plan is to create a one-stop shop for citizens; where they can access information or request service at their convenience.”

Setting up success for Service Saskatoon has and will continue to require a team approach. Many individuals across the corporation played key roles in the success of the initiative’s roll out.

Rob Gilhuly, Darrin Shumay, Carla Blumers, and Carol Maier, to name just a few from Information Technology and Communications, were early champions of Service Saskatoon, studying models in other cities and how they might be applied here in Saskatoon.

Public Works, also had “the pedal to the metal” to set up success for Service Saskatoon. Carla Figg and the Public Works Customer Service team, Russ Munro, Trent Schmidt and the Water and Sewer team had essential roles in planning and readying five water and sewer services to be piloted in the new customer relationship management (CRM) software system.

On average, 7,200 inquiries or requests for service come in annually from citizens and contractors regarding the five piloted services: water outages and connections, hydrant issues, water service turn on and offs, water and sewer locates, and sewer backups. This equals nearly 10 per cent of the 75,000 calls a year to come into the Public Works Customer Service Centre.

A centerpiece of Service Saskatoon, the CRM system helps to manage requests and inquiries more efficiently by attaching a tracking number to each service request or inquiry related to the five water and sewer services. These tracking numbers make it easier for citizens to access information, request services and track our progress from start to finish.

In readying these services for Service Saskatoon, Carla Figg, Manager of Customer Service and Operations Support for Public Works, gathered the teams responsible for this work in the field and worked with them to create detailed process maps. Process maps focus on clearly defining “who does what and when.” Once the maps were completed, front line employees and supervisors from the workgroups involved identified process steps that could be cleaned up to improve effectiveness and efficiency.

“In an operational and responsive division, having the right people at the table was critical to being successful in getting these initial services ready,” stated Figg.

Teams eliminated duplication, leveraged technology, and tapped into support available from the Public Works Customer Service Centre to tighten up operations. These efforts to create efficiency in the way services are delivered by City staff to citizens are the backbone to creating citizen-centric service and helping citizens connect to the people and information they need from the City – quickly, simply and seamlessly.

Saskatoon is already benefiting from the refocused commitment to continuous improvement and performance monitoring. The five piloted services will deliver an estimated $164,000 in efficiencies and savings – resources that will be able to be re-invested and re-allocated to programs and services. Staff time efficiencies come from reducing the time spent searching for information and booking service requests.

“The project was a learning experience for everyone, but now we’ve refined it and are ready for the next five services,” beams Figg.

Work continues at Public Works with the Customer Service and Water and Sewer teams as prepare for inspection and repair requests for catch basins, manholes, retention ponds, sanitary sewer mains, and storm sewers for to be joined to Service Saskatoon later in 2016.

When asked about advice for other Divisions starting their Service Saskatoon journey Figg suggests, “Really think about tightening up your operations and communication between sections, and using technology to help you become more proactive.”

Hyde adds, “Service Saskatoon is accommodating the needs of a dynamic city by embracing citizen engagement and increasing satisfaction.”


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