Planted immediately east of the City of Surrey in British Columbia, Langley is a thriving rural community that attracts people for many reasons including its unparallelled transportation networks, excellent amenities and parks, and some of the region’s most affordable housing prices.
Families and young people are migrating from the other municipalities in the lower mainland because it offers better value in home ownership and an affordable lifestyle that appeals to them because they can sell their properties for 2 or 3 million and buy something of better value in the Township of Langley.
The recent population surge and the corresponding transformation from a quiet, rural community into a suburban metropolis, requires the Township of Langley to operate a variety of community services with efficiency and attention to customer experience. Like other metropolitan communities, residents need access to information and service in areas ranging from utilities, parks and recreation to property taxes, and dog licenses. With a demographic skewing to young families and singles, expectations for online services and omnichannel experiences are rapidly increasing. People are looking for easy ways to access information and they expect to be able to do so on their smartphones, tablets and laptops from anywhere. The Township of Langley partnered with Catapult to implement a solution based on Dynamics 365 for Customer Engagement with a vision to improve the way residents access community services.
The Township couldn’t simply create a fully unified experience for their residents overnight. Building a fully optimized customer experience takes time which means a long-term partnership built on trust is necessary to ensure they can achieve their vision. Catapult have worked with the Township of Langley on several exciting projects and this case study highlights the two most exciting solutions and discusses what’s in store for the future.
Time for a Change
Stakeholders at the Township of Langley wanted a consultancy that understood the needs of their business and were able to collaborate in a flexible manner. Shane Barnaby, Applications Manager at Township of Langley explained, “We came across Catapult and spoke to them a lot before doing business. We agreed to partner for a small project and its success led to larger more complex ones within our e-government strategy. We work well together because both parties understand that the world isn’t linear. Catapult have always been flexible based on our needs.”
Building a Case Management System
One of the problems that the Township identified early on was that residents were visiting their website expecting to consume information and connect with the whole range of community services in one place. This was challenging because the municipality consists of a number of unique business operations, operating a diversity of software applications for their operational needs, using different terminology and having divergent business processes. The experience for a resident wanting to book swimming lessons for their children at a local rec center, then connecting to a different department to apply for a permit for their driveway, was like dealing with two entirely different organizations.
The Township of Langley began to think about how they could interact with their citizens in a way that made it easier for them.
"The main question for us was how can we provide a unified experience where from one system we can collect and distribute requests? The goal of our project with Catapult was for requests and the way we interact with people to be managed via Dynamics 365. Our website would then serve as an extension of that."
Catapult set out to help the Township realize its goals by first addressing the need for managing its escalated requests. The team responsible for managing escalations had no formal process in place. Everything was handled in email and there were no governance or standards for issuing resolutions. It was impossible to see all of the open cases in one place. It was next to impossible to know the current list of open cases that were being handled by the team and no way for a staff member to review the history of a case. This caused significant frustration among residents because they would often struggle to follow up on the status of a case if a member of the team was on vacation or out of office.
This has all changed with the implementation of a new case system with Dynamics 365. Using the case system enables the team to analyze the problem or request and understand the route that the information took in order to enter the system. It is then assigned to an individual on the team who is responsible for dealing with the request. If the team is handling a complaint, then they often send out a team member to talk to the resident face-to-face. The team can send tasks to this person in the field so that they can ensure correct delegation of follow up, something that was very difficult when email messages were flying around, resulting in field staff allocating their time inefficiently. Shane explains how the case system within CRM has improved processes, “The process seems to be running much better than it was before. The system doesn’t just handle complaints, but it’s also set up to handle event requests. There are certain activities that Township representatives will participate in and now we can keep track of them by logging all requests into the CRM system, which is fantastic.”
"We can now summarize many cases in a specific timeframe and that’s very helpful if we get a call from the council where we are told an issue has been brought to their attention and needs to be discussed in a meeting. We can consolidate all the details of a case then simply print it and add it to the agenda as a talking point."
Case information is now tracked in a centralized location so the team can see how many cases are assigned, and to whom. The ability to track these cases has given the department a good understanding of how often cases are getting closed and within what time period, empowering them to set realistic timelines.
A Green Community
The Township of Langley partnered with Catapult on a second project to help simplify cart requests. “Carts” are the bins issued by the Township to each property for people to put their garbage, green waste and recycling into. These carts are city property and come in a variety of sizes depending on the home.
Residents in every municipality are accustomed to, and depend on, consistent and reliable waste management. On the scheduled day, a waste management contractor comes along, empties bins into the appropriate truck and takes it where it needs to go. Simple, right? Wrong! Issues arose for the Township of Langley for several reasons. Carts might be too big, too small, or maybe they are broken. In instances like this, people call and request another cart to get delivered. However, there are a strict set of rules around who can have carts, how many carts they can have and at what size. Historically, people would call up and they would need to validate that the individual making the call is a property owner and, eligible to make the request. Property owners are taxed on carts so it’s not as easy as calling up and getting one delivered without any associated costs. It got even more complicated if someone rented a property because they were not entitled to receive a cart without consent from the landlord.
"Catapult did a great job helping us streamline the whole process and they dealt really well with all the moving pieces. They worked closely with multiple vendors, consultants, and systems to help transform this complex process into a seamless one."
The Township of Langley is also working with Catapult on other projects to continuously simplify the way citizens consume information and communicate with the Township. An example of this involves building a work order and issue management system for Township parks. Shane explained how the partnership continues to evolve, “With support from Catapult we are slowly beginning to provide the level of service that we strive to achieve for our citizens. We continue to utilize Dynamics 365 Customer Engagement to make experiences easier and more consistent for people.” He goes on to say why Catapult is a good fit for their business,
"I find Catapult to be like us—very service orientated which is why it’s a good fit. They understand that they’re in a service business and that there is going to be an expectation for them to provide us with professional services as well as good results. Catapult understands and lives up to that."