Businesses of many stripes have learned that today’s demanding consumers want control over their relationship with a company on their terms and on their schedule. It is no surprise that the trend is now being recognized by government and other community organizations.
No matter who we speak with in the sector, we’re hearing the same thing – citizens now expect efficient access to government services and leaders. After a very long process of getting basic government information online, the next step in the evolution is to make access more user friendly.
Something as simple as renewing your passport is now being coordinated via online scheduling for municipalities of all sizes. Gone are the days of back and forth phone calls, emails or waiting in lines. When the citizens show up, they are already in the queue, the providers know why they are there and the entire machine moves along at a faster clip.
As we respond to requests from governmental agencies from small to nationwide, it prompted us to review the work we’ve done in communities and report on where we believe it’s going.
The City of Houston
The city of Houston, Texas developed ‘Rebuild Houston’ in an effort to renew the city’s drainage and street infrastructure. Rebuild Houston was approved as an amendment to the city’s charter and established pay-as-you-go funding to maintain and improve the city’s drainage and street infrastructure, and to plan upgrades to meet future needs as the city grows. When improvements were made, city residents were assessed based on their share of the project. If city residents felt the charge was not appropriate they could ask for an appeal hearing.
The Public Works Department chose to use the Setster appointment scheduling application because they could integrate it with their existing systems. Only city residents who had been notified about the assessment of drainage fees could access the application to schedule their own appeal hearing appointments, because they were the only people who were eligible for appeal hearings. City residents could also call the city’s back office, where Setster’s scheduling widget was available for city employees in scheduling the appeal hearing for the resident.
Brian Anderson, The Chief Information Officer for the City of Houston remarked on working with Setster
“We needed a quick and adaptable solution to support our online customer appeal hearing request process. After an extensive search we found that Setster uniquely fit our requirements for functionality and adaptability. The implementation was a huge success with our customers and end users.”
The decision saved significant hours on the phone for both City of Houston employees and Houston city residents. Cost savings are estimated at $575,000 annually.
NeighborWorks America creates opportunities for people to live in affordable homes, improve their lives and strengthen their communities. NeighborWorks America works through partnerships, public and private, to drive change at the local level for individuals, families and communities. In their words “We are an organization that cares deeply about affordable housing and community development and the people who benefit from them.”
To be successful at this work, the leaders recognize there is no substitute for the reach, breadth and know-how of the NeighborWorks network – more than 240 of the nation’s best community development organizations – and the support structure they have built over more than 35 years.
Setster has a partnership with NeighborWorks America which provides appointment scheduling for the many organizations in the network. We developed a quick get started kit for the organizations who are often times overwhelmed and understaffed in the work they do. To date we’ve launched the features to dozens of those organizations in the network with more coming on regularly.
Making it easy for those benefitting from their services to get time with the staff and resources of the network has been a jump forward in the success.
We are proud of our relationship with NeighborWorks America. They build the skills, supplement the resources and amplify the reach of the network organizations so they can build more houses, empower more individuals and transform more communities than they would be able to do on their own.
We’re seeing widespread interest in scheduling for government services. The interest now includes those responsible for the wellbeing of their constituents at educational institutions, public health services, nonprofits and other public sector organizations. Today Setster works with a growing number of such groups and we’re preparing proposals for some of the largest institutions in the world.
We’ll continue to be on the leading edge of trends connecting communities with their institutions. If you’re tasked with the next generation of services we encourage you to get a demonstration of Setster in action.