Public services are notorious for being laggards in the race for digital transformation — but the City of Chicago has proved to be an impressive exception.
Catalyst Consulting Group successfully led the overhauled of Chicago’s non-emergency city services system — the process by which constituents submit service requests around the city.
With nearly 3 million potential users, ensuring the success of the new cloud-based system was an initiative of massive proportions.
The system, called CHI311, required a powerful technological infrastructure, high-level collaboration among stakeholders, and a solid digital adoption strategy.
The successful rollout and seamless digital adoption success earned Catalyst WalkMe’s DAP Award for customer experience.
WalkMe’s DAP Awards recognize organizations and individuals who successfully created and executed a digital adoption strategy to achieve digital progress. After evaluating submissions, we chose three winners from different categories to be the first recipients of the award.
The three categories of the WalkMe DAP Awards include transformation leader, customer experience, and employee experience.
Of all of the nominations for the customer experience, the Catalyst project was a clear standout.
Catalyst’s leadership in the development of CHI311 has set a new precedent for public services in the digital age.
The consulting group collaborated with Chicago’s Department of Innovation and Technology (DoIT), 311 City Services, 33 city departments, and Salesforce to transform the 20-year old legacy system into a cutting edge cloud-based platform.
“The City of Chicago had a strategic vision to improve the 311 customer service capabilities of the city for the citizens of Chicago through the use of closed-loop communications, a modern and intuitively designed website, and a citizen-facing mobile app,” Tim Smith, Managing Principal and COO of Catalyst, tells WalkMe.
“We were thrilled to hear about this initiative and immediately started figuring out a way to participate in this truly innovative project effort.”
At a high level, CHI311 makes it easy for constituents to submit service requests (think: repairing a streetlight, filling potholes, removing snow, sheltering stray animals, etc.) and increases transparency into the status of each request.
Users access the system on the community portal or mobile app, which offers a single, city-monitored, web-based platform. There, constituents can track the progress of service requests throughout the full duration of problem resolution.
That means no more long wait times on Chicago’s non-emergency 311 phone line. No more being clueless into the status of your request. No more unresolved issues.
With CHI311, every Chicago resident has an equal ability to submit requests to the improvement of their neighborhood — with a better user experience and faster results.
Catalyst leaders understood that the success of a digital transformation project of this scale rested heavily on its potential to fulfill residents’ real needs.
Tim emphasized the importance of “engag[ing] with the residents to understand what they would like to see from the new system.”
To that end, they focused great attention on focus groups and on-site visioning sessions to gain the deepest possible understanding of Chicago residents’ needs and identify the key business processes that would need to be re-engineered.
When it was time plan the technological infrastructure, Catalyst implemented Salesforce Service Cloud, Salesforce Field Service Lightning, Salesforce Community Portal, Salesforce Marketing Cloud, and a custom Catalyst-built mobile app.
Digital adoption was key to success
Ensuring that all residents can easily use the online community portal and mobile app was fundamental to the success of CHI311.
“If constituents cannot create a service request in a supposedly ‘modern’ system, they will lose trust in the city and the services it provides based on this poor first impression,” says Jess Talwar, Customer Success Manager at Catalyst. “News organizations and watchdog groups will, in turn, question the time, effort, and cost of a system if [the] rollout is not smooth and directly communicated as a benefit to the constituents.”
Digital adoption was an essential part of the strategy to maximize usability and access and maintain the highest standard of trust.
One way to achieve these goals is providing content in multiple languages so Chicago’s diverse population can engage with the platform.
Another core component is the Knowledge Base, which includes more than 500 articles that can answer residents’ frequently asked questions. This was a major improvement from the legacy system, in which residents had to call the 3-1-1 support line to get basic information.
The Knowledge Base not only makes information more accessible to Chicago citizens, it also frees up operators’ time to focus on providing higher-quality customer engagement and troubleshooting more complex issues.
A digital transformation project of this scale has high stakes.
“When you launch a solution like this, that potentially has a user base of millions and is highly visible, all the way from citizen champions to the Mayor’s office, that’s a lot of pressure,” says Tim. “I couldn’t be more proud of our team and the way everyone rose to the challenge.”
The proof of early success is in the numbers.
At the time of Catalyst’s submission to the WalkMe DAP Awards, the CHI311 mobile app had been downloaded 16,000 times for iOS and 8,700 times for Android devices from its launch in December 2018.
An impressive 48,469 services requests have been made through the mobile app, while 215,532 have been created through the Community Portal.
Chicago paves a path for other cities
Digital transformation at a city-wide scale is no small feat, but with the right digital adoption strategy, success is within reach.
CHI311’s early achievements have already set an example for other cities.
“We have already seen tremendous momentum in the marketplace from municipalities making a push to connect in more efficient ways with their residents,” says Tim. “Residents expect the same levels of customer service that they get from Amazon, and the only way to deliver that level of customer service is through technology.”
Congratulations, Catalyst, for your success!
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WalkMe pioneered the Digital Adoption Platform (DAP) for organizations to utilize the full potential of their digital assets. Using artificial intelligence, machine learning and contextual guidance, WalkMe adds a dynamic user interface layer to raise the digital literacy of all users.