Customer Service- Department Relocation
Recently the Customer Service Department was relocated to the main lobby of City Hall. The relocation will offer citizens ease of access and better visibility when seeking customer service assistance. With this move, we hope to solidify positive public relations with the community, and allow the City Hall staff to address requests, questions, and concerns in a timely and thorough fashion. Last month, Customer Service saw an increasing trend in the total percent of requests made online by residents, and maintained their timely responsiveness for customer service related questions. They continue to look forward to assisting and resolving all your customer service needs.
DPW Making major sidewalk improvements
The Department of Public Works has made a major effort to reduce the backlog for sidewalk requests. Using dedicated sidewalk crews to do the concrete replacement or repair that will last longer, DPW has reduced the backlog from 510 this time last year down to 281. They continue to focus on making our sidewalks safe and attractive, and are working their way across the City, expecting to continue throughout the summer and to eliminate the backlog that has existed for years by the end of this construction season. At the same time, they have improved response rates for making sidewalks safe, having completed 99% within 5 business days in May.
New, More Effective Database Tracking in the Library
As a service to patrons the library offers access to a number of databases for use in the library and remotely for Newton residents. Residents of all ages can do research on a wide range of subjects. We recently implemented a system that can track the use of these databases so that we can ensure we are providing the most useful services. In addition to tracking the total usage that will be reported on the monthly scorecards, the system will track the use of individual databases, information we can use to make sure we are offering library patrons the resources they want most.
More Departments on New Scorecard
After reviewing our scorecards and results, we’ve changed the format for our scorecards to show more information. Each card will now compare our results to the same month in the previous year and compare our results for each fiscal year, to the previous one. We’ve also added a “Metric Goal” column to give residents a better understanding of what each of our departments is trying to accomplish when they set their targets. This month we added DPW and Fire to the new format. All Departments will be moving over to this layout in the near future.
We’ve made some changes!
After reviewing our scorecards and results, we’ve changed the format for our scorecards to show more information. Each card will now compare our results to the same month in the previous year and compare our results for each fiscal year, to the previous one. We’ve also added a “Metric Goal” column to give residents a better understanding of what each of our departments is trying to accomplish when they set their targets. Check out the November Scorecards for the Parks and Recreation, Library, Senior Services, and Police departments to see the new format. All Departments will be moving over to this layout in the near future.
An interesting month for Parks and Recreation
Despite having a few swim programs combine in August, the participants for our programs were well above the targets we set based on last year for the 2nd consecutive month. Much of this can be accounted for by having better program tracking, but it is encouraging to see just how many residents taking advantage of our camps and enjoying our swim facilities when the weather is nice.
At a glance, it may also seem strange that with such an increase in participants, our revenue fell well short of the target, but this can be explained by a change in policy. The department instituted a pre-payment policy this year for our camps, and looking back at the revenue from May and June – a combined $142,853 over our targets after taking out two one-time $100,000 checks – it makes a lot more sense to see a drop in revenue in August.
Grounds maintenance requests not only reached their target for the first time since we instituted our program, but completed all 100% of incoming resident requests within 5 days. It’s great to see this improvement in response.
A number of City departments productivity was limited this month due to transferring our resources to Hurricane response. Our Forestry department in particular received over 900 requests in a matter of a couple of days, and it shows in the numbers. While we were able to get most of our streets cleared, basins flowing, and power back more quickly than many other communities; the Mayor’s office and Director of Emergency Management Lt. Hugh Downing are working on a plan to improve our internal communication and response times for future weather emergencies. Keep an eye out for more information on this in the winter months.
Lock your cars
Lastly, the police department would like to remind residents to lock their car doors. For the third straight month our larcenies have increased and a majority of these cases are car break-ins. The police will be increasing directed patrols in key areas, and will soon be using our new K-9 unit to track suspects, but you should always lock your doors, even if you are parked in front of your home. Laptops, iPods, and GPS systems are the most common targets.
Improvements in Customer Service
Our Customer service has come out well ahead of their targets for the past few months, so we adjusted our targets for June based on the data we had from previous months. In June, they continued to reach these goals, following up with residents in a timely fashion and promoting our easy to use 311 Online system. If you haven’t used it yet, click here to try 311 Online next time you have a request for City Hall
Data Driven Improvement
Last month, the Senior Services Department surveyed attendees who participate in the federally funded lunch program provided in partnership with the local elder service agency to evaluate satisfaction with our current lunch program. Overall satisfaction came in at 59% of Senior Center patrons rating themselves as completely satisfied. A deeper look at the results revealed that while most people found the program very convenient and cost effective, the food itself got mixed reviews. The Department is moving forward with plans to offer senior center patrons other dining alternatives. Keep your eyes open for more details.
Help Spread the Word
For both May and June, we had about 1,350 non-employee visitors to our CitiStat webpages, but we want more people to know about what we are doing to improve services here in Newton. One key aspect of our program is making our results public so that residents like you can evaluate our performance. If you think the site and the scorecards are interesting, tell a friend about CitiStat! And if you haven’t already, take a moment to respond to our CitiStat Website Visitor Feedback Survey.
New Metrics in Senior Services
In April and May, the Senior Services Department included metrics on how well we service our seniors who are seeking assistance. Last month 100% of seniors who came to the Senior Center looking for help were provided some type of aid, such as access to wheelchairs and walkers, fuel assistance, food stamps, in home care, or help applying for federal assistance with bills. Additionally, in all cases, help was received within 30 days.
When the Newton Library set up a system to measure computer Internet usage, the results quickly made apparent that the demand for library computers in the Information Technology Training Center was less than expected. Given the information at their disposal, they have changed the Internet usage policy to provide better service for patrons using these computers by increasing the time an individuals may stay online. Patrons may now sign up for two hours in a row (increased from one hour) and maximum three hours/day (increased from two hours/day). In addition the library will purchase and install Adobe Photoshop and Premiere to allow the patrons use of additional popular software.
Give us your feedback!
We are still interested in your input. We want to know what additional information you would like to see as part of our CitiStat web site. Please take a moment to respond to our CitiStat Website Visitor Feedback Survey.
Check the latest scorecards
The latest performance reports are now available. Click the Scorecards drop down menu to choose a department, and then pick the month of the scorecard you would like to see. Monthly data are available in separate scorecards in a clickable list.
Additional department scorecards
We have added performance metrics for several other departments: Treasury, Inspectional Services, Senior Services, and Library. They appear in the Scorecard drop down list of departments. Learn more about how we are measuring the services you care about most.
Keep an eye out for new metrics
As we continue to develop our program, you’ll see new metrics in our scorecards. Some of these integral services are being measured for the first time in history, giving us the information we need to recognize problems early and to make sure we are living up to the standards of service that we expect here in Newton.
Process Improvement Projects yield big dividends
In a process mapping project that focused on improving our City hiring and payroll functions, we have been able to significantly reduce the time required to perform a series of the routine HR activities associated with maintaining current employee changes (a 60% reduction).
In a similar project in the Parks and Recreation Department, we have improved the quality and productivity of City maintenance projects and reduced by 40% the time required to manage such projects.
Between the two projects we have reduced the number of hours required from approximately 4,000 to 2,000. These hours saved represent improvements in efficiency and enable us to continue to deliver high levels of service with limited personnel and to decrease work backlogs in numerous departments.
We are in the process of expanding our citizen service request system to all City Departments. Citizens may either call 311 to reach our Customer Service or may go online to enter service requests or ask questions by clicking the 311 icon on the City website. The goal of our online system, as well as our 311 system is to respond to service requests and questions in a timely manner.
Citizen Satisfaction Opinion Snapshot Survey
In November 2010 we completed a Citizen Opinion Survey. Click here to read the results. We plan to conduct a statistically valid customer service survey in the coming months.