Friday, June 05, 2009

Using Tweets to Provide Exceptional Government Service

The Mayor of San Francisco, Gavin Newsom, was looking for creative ways to provide customer service to his citizens without costing the city a lot of money. In a press conference, that was replayed on Youtube, he announced a new and innovative way for his citizens to communicate with the city's government agencies through Twitter.

A few years ago the city took 2300 phone numbers and a very difficult to navigate phone tree and merged them into a 311 call center. This call center is open 24 hours a day, 365 days a year and is also available in 179 languages.

The Mayor said that they were looking into a text-messaging component to this call center but the price was prohibitive. He found that integrating Twitter into the system was the perfect answer. Twitter and the city's Dept of Technology worked together on this project.

Citizens can now press d sf311 on their Blackberry, I phone or non-smart phone as well as through their computer in order to send a question or complaint to the 311 call center. Once the tweet has been sent, the call center routes it to the correct department. Citizens can send photos (graffiti tags, abandoned mattresses or potholes) along with their tweet.

Bix Stone, co-founder of Twitter, said " People are moving their communication to a more open medium using tools like Twitter and Social Networking and Youtube." Clearly Mayor Newsom understands this better than anyone. His speeches are broadcast on Youtube and he is the first Mayor to integrate Twitter into his 311 call center.

Newsom said that he wanted to empower his citizens. He wants "800,000 eyes and ears on our streets."

Whether or not your local government can use technology as creatively as San Francisco, you do need to make exceptional customer service a priority.

Find ways to make it easy for your citizens to talk to you. If nothing else make sure you have a simple phone system that has no more than a few prompts. Respond to emails and letters quickly. Return your phone calls promptly. Follow the spirit of Mayor Newsom's goals.

1 comment:

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