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Project serves to improve customer satisfaction

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Project: Customer Inquiry Processing

Project Lead: Kelly Maloney

Team Members: Economic Development Administrative Assistant Katie Baxter, Manager of Innovation Tonya Kraan, Manager of Kawartha Lakes Small Business and Entrepreneurship Centre Diane Steven, Executive Assistant to Mayor and Council Andrea Walders and Kelly Maloney

Financial Savings: $1,200

Productivity Savings: $4,500

Knowledge is power is an appropriate ethos for the City of Kawartha Lakes Economic Development department. By consistently tracking inquiries and connecting them with other client based activities and information within a robust customer relationship database, staff are better able to ensure speedy response. More importantly, the connected electronic data allows staff to compile all information related to a project or client in one central location.

Removing paper based processes and utilizing a centralized electronic format became the focal point of Agriculture Development Officer Kelly Maloney’s first Rapid Action project under the City’s Lean Six Sigma performance management initiative.

“When inquiries come into the Economic Development department, each staff person was tracking the inquiries differently, responding differently and there was really no way to measure or track the response due to the methods we were using,” explained Ms. Maloney.

Ms. Maloney said there was never a standard procedure so some people would write notes in a book, others would make notes in a calendar and others would use sticky notes. The information was scattered, and wasn’t easily accessible or trackable.

As a first step toward finding a solution, the Green Belt team looked at all the inquiry processes within the Economic Development department and had all staff track inquiries to establish baseline data.

Each staff person recorded the time an inquiry came in, what the issue or nature of the inquiry was, how it was received in the department, how the issue was resolved and how long it would take.

What the team discovered is that inquiries ranged from people calling about library hours, to walk in inquiries about directions to a particular place or emails and phone calls about more in-depth projects.

“What we were able to develop was a procedure to use our existing software program Salesforce, to log all inquiries coming into the department,” explained Ms. Maloney. “So we standardized the process for recording inquiries and tracking a variety of information pertaining to those inquiries. Now that the information is in our system, we can see all information in one place and produce statistical reports quickly and easily”

Another thing the team was able to implement was a ‘front desk’ function at the entry point to the Economic Development department that is always attended to by a member of the staff. That means all walk in traffic and initial phone call traffic is received in one central place, rather than the work flow of all staff being interrupted with each inquiry.

“We really wanted to drill down and be able to look at the types of requests and be proactive with that,” said Ms. Maloney. “If we get a number of requests about a particular issue or topic then we can look at making that information more readily available and accessible and potentially reduce the number of inquiries we receive on that issue. The customer is happier to have the information at their fingertips, and the staff can dedicate more time to program delivery when there are fewer repetitive questions. “

Another benefit is being able to reduce the number of inquiries coming into Economic Development by ensuring they are directed to the right departments initially.

“We have developed a protocol to let the call center know immediately about misdirected calls as well as to provide information and resources for handling similar inquiries in the future.

To help measure the effectiveness of the new processes and monitor customer satisfaction, there is also a new survey being sent to individuals who make inquiries seeking their feedback.

“It is a short, really simple four question survey that we are sending to people to measure their level of satisfaction with the service they received,” said Ms. Maloney.

While Ms. Maloney notes the department was aware that everyone did things differently prior to undertaking the project, the tools available through the Lean Six Sigma initiative in getting to the core of processes really helped to quantify the issue and address solutions.

“This was very much a project that involved the whole department,” Ms. Maloney explained. “The whole staff participated in the surveys and tracking exercises, and each team member got to lead a portion of the project.

Making up the team were Economic Development Administrative Assistant Katie Baxter, Manager of Innovation Tonya Kraan, Manager of Kawartha Lakes Small Business and Entrepreneurship Centre Diane Steven, Executive Assistant to Mayor and Council Andrea Walders and Kelly Maloney.

Looking forward, Ms. Maloney said she hopes the City of Kawartha Lakes reaches a point where all staff has been a part of the Green Belt process.

“It’s a great initiative,” she said. “It has allowed staff to take action and to begin to think about process first.”

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