The Town of Winslow, NJ (pop. 40,000) is focused on continual, data-driven improvement. The town’s Administrator, Joe Gallagher, and Administrative Clerk Karen Bringhurst oversee all the town’s departments and ensure they provide great service to Winslow’s residents. In addition to constantly looking for areas to improve internal processes, the town sets goals each year to better serve its residents.
The town lacked visibility into resident interaction with town departments. The town offered several services that were prompted by a citizen's request, such as scheduling a pickup of bulk materials. Other common requests were OPRA [FOIA] requests, trash pickup requests, animal control requests, and utility mark out requests. Submitting requests was inconvenient, as residents would have to visit in person or call to submit a request. Sometimes residents would be confused about which department handled their request, call the wrong department by accident, and end up being transferred between multiple people before finding the correct contact. The process ended up being time-consuming for residents and resulted in town staff having less time to perform more complex and important tasks.
“Our goal was to transition to a system that was used by all departments and that could allow staff to see all resident interactions with the town”
Each department used separate paper-based processes for receiving and documenting these requests, so passing request information between departments was difficult and inefficient. When a request came in for one of the 3,500 utility mark outs the municipal utilities complete per year, which help prevent damage to underground utility lines during construction or excavation, the paper-based process left the town vulnerable to fines from the New Jersey Board of Public Utilities. Requests would be submitted by a resident or contractor via fax, and the completed request was filed by the utility as a hard copy. Because the process was paper-based, tracking requests was difficult and left no opportunity to tag notes or photos to the request to prove completion to the contractor or the state utility board.
“All of our departments used paper-based processes or department-specific software for request submittals,” said Administrative Clerk Karen Bringhurst. “Our goal was to transition to a system that was used by all departments and that could allow staff to see all resident interactions with the town.”
It was clear that the town needed a more efficient way for both requests to be submitted so that they were visible to all departments, and for requests to be better documented through the completion stage.
Digitizing citizen requests enabled Winslow to fulfill a growing number of requests and streamline communication between departments.
The town administration searched for software tools and found GOGov, who customized a CRM system to satisfy the town's requirements and built a service portal to make submitting requests intuitive for residents.
Rather than calling and getting transferred between departments to submit a request, residents can pick from a list of options in the portal and have the request automatically routed to the correct department. Additionally, when residents do call, the staff member they’re speaking to can pull up a list of their interactions with all departments to holistically answer questions or address concerns.
The town also implemented a mobile app, “My Winslow”, to allow residents to place a request while on the go. Alongside the app, Winslow prioritized the citizen experience associated with utilizing town services by enabling residents to receive notifications of updates made to their request, including when it is completed.
The new system made handling more involved requests like utility mark-outs much easier. Staff can now create the service ticket for the mark-out while out in the field, saving time for both staff and requestor. Important information like the mark-out details and the fax from the request can be tagged to the service ticket in the system for easy reference. Office staff can access a searchable log of all mark-outs should they or another department receive calls about what the mark-out flags are for.
On the town staff side, digitizing the request process made a significant difference when it came to engaging with residents. Instead of receiving repetitive phone calls about a missed bulk item pickup, requests are automatically sent to the corresponding department and the staff is able to reallocate their time to other tasks. Getting staff buy-in can be difficult, but Winslow found that its departments were excited to use a new tool that streamlined communication and helped automate otherwise time-consuming tasks.
The increased communication between the Township and residents through GOGov has been immense. It enables residents to send us photos, allows staff to ask quick follow up questions and creates a faster turnaround time for these concerns since we can instantly ask questions and provide feedback.”
Consolidating the systems used to track and document citizen requests helped the town renew its focus on continual, data-driven improvement. The town administration can now look at a dashboard of request activity across all departments and narrow in on areas for improvement. If complaints are received from a resident, the resident’s request history can be viewed at a moment’s notice, and notes and photos from the interaction can be sent to all relevant parties.
“Using GOGov has allowed the town to operate more efficiently,” said Administrative Clerk Karen Bringhurst. “Residents are happy with how easy it is to request services using the app and service portal and the system helps staff effectively manage the thousands of requests we receive each year.”
Patrolman Richard Saunders from the Winslow Township Traffic Safety Unit said, “GOGov is a great asset for the Winslow Twp. Police Department and Traffic Safety Unit. It provides residents with a quick and easy platform to report traffic safety concerns and connect with specialized officers who can assist with those concerns.”
Simeon Martello – Director of Winslow Township Public Works said “The increased communication between the Township and residents through GOGov has been immense. It enables residents to send us photos, allows staff to ask quick follow up questions and creates a faster turnaround time for these concerns since we can instantly ask questions and provide feedback.”