Mobile customer service gives city residents a voice with government

Lauren Horwitz at TechTarget: “When social scientists James Wilson and George Kelling devised their broken windows theory during the 1980s, they couldn’t have imagined smartphones as tools to keep neighborhoods safe and clean. But for the city of Philadelphia, a new online initiative known as Philly 311 turns mobile devices into frontline tools for citizens to report problems and engage with local government.
Until just a few months ago, when Philadelphia residents wanted to report a graffiti-riddled building, they would have to call the city’s customer contact center. Some residents toted around hefty physical binders to track issues. But today, they can use mobile phones to report incidents and track them online without having to make a call or stop by the contact center.
With Philly 311, which launched in December 2014, residents can take photos of wayward trash littering a street, “geolocate” the incident with a mobile phone,…
With initiatives like Philly 311, the city has experienced changes in resident interaction with government. Between 2013 and 2014, for example, mobile phone use to report incidents to the city’s contact center exploded, with communication increasing more than 300%. Walk-in communication with the contact center decreased by 9%, by contrast, and email communications by 1%. Mobile reporting of incidents can thus promote some contact center efficiencies, in which incidents are automatically reported by phone and routed to the appropriate department. Lue said that the city has made the shift to accommodate residents’ need for more effective and scalable multichannel options….(More)”