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Online forms bridge a new service delivery model 

Though office doors may be closed right now, city governments must continue to deliver the services their community relies on each day. If your key city services, such as registering a pet, applying for building and planning permits, or reporting issues are already online and easy to use, congratulations! You are ahead of the curve.   

It’s great to check the box on key City requests, likely supported by your customer request management system (CRMS). But what about the hundreds of other manual PDFs, paper forms and offline services that don’t have any system or structured process behind them?  

Digitizing core city services lays the foundation, but it is not enough. We need to provide residents with a means to access any and every city service—effectively bringing the in-office experience to them, wherever they are and whenever they need. 

The recent COVID-19 pandemic and its public impact has only accelerated the drive toward greater self-service on city government sites. But whilst the crisis has become a catalyst for digital transformation, it has also decimated the budget Cities depend on to realise their digital-first aspirations. 

So, how are Cities solving the dual challenges of: 

1) Helping customers access more online services, whilst the doors of city hall are closed? 

2) Helping city staff collaborate on and process customer requests, whilst working remotely? 

They prioritize for impact  

Use lightweight methodologies such as RICE to quickly prioritize offline services that will have the greatest impact, and are most seasonally relevant. Download our fillable forms prioritization worksheet to get started.  

They pick tools that offer speed & flexibility 

Whilst your CRMS might (with some strong-arming) be able to manage “secondary” digital services, the plethora of no-code/low-code cloud solutions allow Cities to rapidly stand up digital services in a fraction of the time and cost of re-configuring a CRMS.  

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“Using OpenForms, Cardinia Shire Council was able to empower non-technical team members to convert PDFs into online forms at a rate of one per 2 hours,” said Rob Petreski, Customer Service Manager for Cardinia. “Within a few minutes of launching our online animal registration process, we had our first digital submission. Across the 47 initial forms digitized, the City measured over 100 hours saved in phone calls in the first month alone.”  

They recognize the digital employee experience is just as critical 

Publishing more and better online forms solves one part of the service delivery challenge. Whilst transforming the ‘customer experience’ has been the catch cry for local governments, the truth is better customer experiences must start with better employee experiences.  

With many cities shifting to a remote/work from home model, providing employees modern, easy to use tools is more important than ever before. In the context of digital customer self-service, staff members must have an automated and highly efficient workflow to receive, act on and close incoming customer requests in a timely manner.  

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Workflow automation, as made possible with OpenForms, makes setting up request workflows and notifications as easy as drag-and-drop. This allows staff to process form submissions from anywhere, on any device, whilst keeping customers informed as their submission progresses through to completion.  

The new normal: impact, speed, customer and employee experience 

Responding to today’s challenges have accelerated the shift to more agile operating models, technology and process. For customer self-serve, this means responding faster than ever before to emerging community needs, by standing up new online forms and workflows within hours or days, rather than weeks or months.  

Moreton Bay Regional Council launches new rate relief service

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To support its community, Moreton Bay Regional Council introduced a $15 million stimulus package for eligible residents experiencing financial difficulties due to COVID-19. A collaborative effort between the Property & Rating and ICT Team, MBRC used OpenForms to accelerate the creation of an entirely online and automatic process. This involved integration between several systems, including MBRC’s financial system, and a verification step with Centrelink, an external government agency. Because MBRC was able to configure much of the customer-facing experience without coding, the entire solution was created, tested and launched in under one week, and allows MBRC to assess applications in less than 2 days. 

Yarra Ranges Shire Council digitizes building permit Q&A's

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Whilst they may be the first to come to mind, it’s not only PDFs and offline forms that are ripe for digitization. It’s conversations as well. Identify other traditionally in-person services or questions that lend themselves to a self-serve approach. For example, Yarra Ranges Shire Council located outside of Melbourne, transformed common building and planning over-the-counter discussions into a self-guided process using a concise, responsive online forms.  

 

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It’s easy to start digitising your forms

See how the City of Tea Tree Gully shifted 36,000 annual customer calls into self-service clicks.

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