2018 Issue Briefing: Customer Service Improvement Initiatives
This Note is part of a series of Notes on key City issues to update City Council at the start of its 2018 – 2022 term.
Toronto at Your Service (“TAYS”), the City’s integrated customer service initiative, will provide a consistent, timely and efficient customer experience to all residents, businesses and visitors, across all service channels. Under a “digital first” approach, TAYS aims to improve service delivery and customer experience and reduce service delivery cost.
The City of Toronto has numerous initiatives underway to improve business processes and practices, build on the tradition of great customer service in the Toronto Public Service and meet evolving customer requirements. Service modernization is one point of the City’s four-point modernization plan announced in 2016. The other three points of the plan include hiring a Chief Transformation Officer for the City of Toronto, modernizing office space to use the city space more efficiently, and maximizing the value and efficient use of the City’s land and property assets.
Service modernization is supported by the TAYS Program Office to ensure efforts are focused and prioritized. The Program Office oversees corporate service modernization projects and aligns improvement activities under a common vision and strategy.
The City’s customer service modernization builds on continuous improvements efforts already underway. The new TAYS Program Office will focus on:
- implementing a corporate Customer Relationship Management (CRM) tool,
- enhancing the service experience across channels (phone, digital, in-person) for routine transactions such as general enquiry, payment, applications, permits, and scheduling appointments (referred to as Tier 1 services), and
- integrating customer service counters at Civic centres, Metro Hall and City Hall.
The launch of 311 Toronto in 2009 supported the City’s efforts to integrate customer service delivery across the organization and resulted in improvements in customer satisfaction, measured by the Institute for Citizen-Centred Service Citizen First surveys.
Between 2008 and 2018, the City of Toronto service reputation score increased 23 points from 45 to 68 (out of 100), which is above the national average for 2018. Residents responded that they are generally satisfied with the quality of customer service provided by the City, with opportunities to improve in the following areas:
- more online service offerings
- navigation for online services
- reduced wait times and delays in obtaining service
- extended hours of service
- accessibility of information
- issue resolution
New Integrated Service Delivery Model
The TAYS service delivery model will gradually transform the customer service experience from sometimes frustrating, inconsistent, non-integrated, and difficult to access services, to a more convenient, consistent, cohesive and accessible experience. In the future residents, businesses and visitors can expect:
- Integrated Service Delivery: Coordination of City service delivery through shared technologies and business processes to offer a consistent experience across service channels.
- Improved Access to Service: Ability to access services and complete routine transactions on a service channel of choice with an increased drive to services online. Assisted service offered for those customers who require guidance with digital channels, including support at service counters.
- Customer Centric Service Design: Services designed from the customer’s perspective to meet the needs of the City’s diverse population. Services will be presented and bundled in a manner that makes sense for customers.
- Embedded Service Excellence: Regular review of service provision to ensure continuous improvement. Services will be gradually migrated to the ‘best fit’ service channel (i.e. from service counters to digital service channels) to balance customer convenience and cost-effectiveness.
Projects that will support meeting these objectives include:
Digital Service Migration: Using a phased approach Tier 1, or routine service transactions such as general enquiries and payments, are gradually transitioned to digital offerings. Digital service channels provide customers with more service options and accessibility by removing the need to visit a City facility, while also increasing operational efficiency and effectiveness by reducing the cost per transaction significantly.
The potential scope includes 135 Tier 1 service transactions to be prioritized for phased implementation from 2018 to 2022. Work is ongoing, and some Tier 1 services from several City divisions, including Toronto Building, Parks, Forestry & Recreation, Transportation Services, Revenue Services, and Economic Development and Culture, among others are now available online.
CRM Platform: A new CRM platform will replace 311 legacy knowledge base and service request management tool to increase standardization and efficiency in managing customer relationships. The platform provides a modular design for faster and more cost-effective divisional service integrations. The CRM platform will be available to all divisions to improve their service delivery using a common technology solution. The CRM could facilitate migration to self-serve and digital channels and lower the cost structure to deliver service.
311 is currently piloting the CRM platform in partnership with Toronto Water and Municipal Licensing & Standards. An evaluation Phase 1 is planned to run during the first half of 2019. In second half of 2019, the platform will be leveraged to migrate all remaining 311 services and will be rolled out across the corporation, based on a phased and prioritized deployment plan.
Integrated Service Counters: Services delivered at 41 different counters across the city and will gradually be shifted to five integrated service counters at City Hall, Metro Hall, and the civic centres. The five integrated service counters will feature multiple divisional services and a common counter for triage and greeting. Customers will be able to access a consistent menu of counter services at all five proposed service counters, providing a one-stop-shop for in-person, routine service transactions. The Integrated Service Counters are contingent upon the implementation of the Digital Service Migration and will be initiated after Tier 1 transformation has achieved critical mass.
Tier 2 and 3 Divisional Service Transformation: Inter-divisional and divisional customer experience improvement activities are also taking place currently, focusing on more complex and specialized services as well as services delivered in partnership with other levels of government and third-party providers (referred to as tier 2 and tier 3 services respectively). These include the Enterprise Work Management System project, the Integrated Planning, Permitting and Licensing project, and Parks, Forestry and Recreation Transformation, among others.
Human Services Integration: The first phase of Human Services Integration provided streamlined access to information about Ontario Works, housing subsidies and child care fee subsidies through online and phone channels. Also, the Service and Benefit Finder Tool provide residents with personalized information on a range of benefits, services and subsidies.
In phase two, improvements will be made to telephony services, including the creation and launch of a cloud knowledge base for the consistent and efficient provision of relevant information to clients.
Actions or Plans
In 2016, the City launched the four-point modernization plan outlined above to save money and improve service to the public through innovation, modern technology and improved efficiency. This plan guides the transformation of customer service and experience under the TAYS Integrated Service Delivery Model.
A program office is being established to lead and oversee all of the customer service projects within the City. That office will ensure all project plans are aligned, coordinated and shepherded to completion. Continued plans for the next phases of digital migration, integrated service counters, as well as projects like Human Services Integration, the Integrated Planning, Permitting and Licensing and the Parks, Forestry, and Recreation Transformation are scheduled over the next three years, with substantial delivery in 2019-2020. All of these items are aligned to the corporate service strategy focused on customer-centric service design and service channel choices. There will be more information shared on progress and key milestone achievement as plans progress in 2019.
|November 2016||The City launched a four-point modernization plan to improve service to the public, increase efficiency and save money|
|July 2015||City Council considered a Customer Service Centre Strategy Update|