Reprinted from the May 2012 Edition of Performance Measurement Insider:
Local government 311/CRM systems generate a wealth of data that are being used for performance measurement and management efforts. One particularly helpful element is the use of service level agreement (SLAs). SLAs reflect an agreement between the 311/CRM system and a service department that specifies the length of time it will take to fulfill a service request. For an elections office, an SLA may involve sending out an absentee ballot within 24 hours of receiving a request. For a code enforcement agency, it may assign an inspector to review the reported problem within one work week.
SLAs are particularly helpful from a customer service perspective because they serve to manage citizen expectations. If citizens know how long a given service request will take, they are less likely to repeatedly report the problem, taking up both their time and that of the service department in processing duplicate requests. The goal of a SLA is to set a realistic timeframe for completing a service request. While every community has to set its own goals, most work to achieve the desired SLA between 75% to 95% of the time.
If service requests aren’t being responded to within the designated SLA timeframe, this becomes a flag for further investigation. In Minneapolis, the Regulatory Services department began looking at service requests for exterior nuisance complaints. The investigation showed that one out of four supervisor districts generated nearly 33 percent of all exterior nuisance service requests, whereas another of the four districts only generated about 16 percent. Yet both districts had one supervisor and approximately the same number of support staff. It was clear that a reallocation of resources needed to be considered in order to meet the department’s SLAs consistently throughout the city.
SLAs can of course, be adjusted depending on extenuating circumstances and varying workloads. The SLA timeframe for picking up tree limbs will likely take longer after a major storm, and in northern climates, spring time always brings more potholes that need to be repaired. But overriding goal of establishing SLAs is to achieve quality service delivery on a routine basis.
With local governments facing tough fiscal choices, the data collected through 311/CRM systems can enable local governments to better track performance and improve service delivery. For more information on 311/CRM systems, check out www.icma.org/311 and www.icma.org/311assistance or e-mail Cory Fleming at email@example.com.