Improving Interactions Between the City of Philadelphia and Its Constituents

The Challenge

When residents of a city want to access public services, they must often wade through confusing forms, inconsistent terminology, and siloed departments. When new businesses open up, they often have to navigate confusing information, agencies that don’t seamlessly share data with one another, and inconsistent customer service. This leads to frustrations, delays, and a general distrust in government services. This is a challenge for most city governments, and Philadelphia was no exception.

In an effort to improve interactions with city government, the city intended to purchase a new technology system to address these issues. While there was broad agreement that technology would be a key piece of the solution, there were a variety of views within the city departments on what a customer relationship management (CRM) tool would provide, what problems it would solve, and how it would be supported.

The Project

Before purchasing new technology, Philadelphia knew it was crucial to understand the cultural and organizational barriers — not just the technology deficit — to improve their engagement with residents and businesses. Despite pressure to speed up their procurement, Philadelphia engaged Bloom to approach the problem holistically. Bloom knew that without a unified vision or adequate plan, rollout of even the best tool could exacerbate the very problems the city was trying to solve. We embarked on a discovery phase to better understand the root problems, and help city stakeholders develop a unified vision for what they needed. We started by visualizing what makes a good resident or business interaction, and what’s preventing the city from delivering on that vision.

Bloom facilitated a working session with 20 senior level city officials across Philadelphia departments. Within the working session, we conducted 5 activities with the aim to understand the goals, end users, challenges, and ways that technology could help or hurt those goals.

The Result

The working sessions helped generate many insights that led to a shared vision of improved relationships with residents and businesses. Bloom synthesized the findings from the working session and external research, and transformed the findings into actionable insights. This helped lay the groundwork for a successful procurement of a CRM service. Specifically, the report:

  • defined a single vision for the role of technology in constituent interactions
  • established the resources needed to develop and own the new software
  • clarified the gaps between the current and desired state
  • outlined a strategy on how to support the full ecosystem of elements that affect a constituent’s experience (e.g., organizational silos, data inconsistencies)

The procurement for a technology solution is currently on-hold as the city directs its resources toward COVID-related needs. However, city officials are confident they will be resuming the customer service initiative post COVID.

Bloom helped create the cross-functional vision the City was looking for to tackle complex and diverse resident and constituent services needs”
Nick Susi, Deputy CIO

Services Used

  • Discovery Sprint
  • User Research
  • Comparative and Landscape Analysis
  • Procurement Strategy

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