Sometimes, automation is viewed as a cold or robotic process that eliminates human interaction. Automation should never sacrifice the quality of a program or service. At the Regional Municipality of York, each program or project is looked at through a customer service lens. The question “what does this mean for our residents?” is echoed in all aspects of the staff’s work.

The Regional Municipality of York provides services to 1.2 million residents across nine cities and towns. Staff at all levels of York Region have been working together to implement a comprehensive new customer experience plan that sets a vision for improving and transforming the way York Region serves its customers. It’s a blueprint to evolve the way staff, processes, and technology work together to deliver exceptional service.

When York Region implements a new automated process, they don’t focus solely on eliminating backlogs or inefficiencies—although these goals are certainly worthwhile. Each of York’s automated workflows is developed specifically to improve the experience of the customer. The team looks for opportunities to enhance the feeling of quality care and personal touch a customer might get through human interaction—while, at the same time, streamlining the process.

Assessing the Backend Process of Public Engagement

Access York provides residents, visitors, and business owners with a central point of contact for information about regional programs and services from the corporation as a whole. The public may interact with Access York by phone or email, as well as through in-person kiosks located at many public buildings. Each of these interactions is logged and tracked in Salesforce, a customer relationship management platform.

When a resident or visitor reports a road-related issue, Access York passes the information on to the appropriate department. However, the Transportation Services and Environmental Services Departments use Cityworks to log customer interactions as well as work history, inspections, and other important data. York Region was operating two robust systems that simply weren’t talking to each other.

Over the years, Cityworks users in York Region Transportation Services and Environmental Services have deployed a number of sophisticated automation suites aimed at enhancing their customer service levels. So, they researched an automated solution to link Salesforce and Cityworks.

How It Works

Making two large systems talk to each other is no easy feat. York Region worked with a consultant to create an elegant yet sophisticated bi-directional synchronizing middleware. Feature manipulation engine (FME) is used as an enterprise service bus (ESB) to listen for published messages within topics as they are created by Salesforce and Cityworks.

Anything created or updated in one system is automatically replicated in the correct location in the other system. Most importantly, Access York and departments using Cityworks can keep both systems up-to-date without any status changes or notes, while ensuring communication to residents is accurate and concise.

This solution is also extended to the York Region mobile app, which allows residents to connect with regional services while maintaining a consistent experience across those services. Mobile app interactions are logged and stored in Salesforce and from there follow the same pathway as other interactions. Road and roadside issues are synched to Cityworks.

Measuring Success

A key requirement of this integration was limiting the impact on staff, so the team kept user interface and workflow modifications to a minimum. Only four additional custom data fields were exposed on the Cityworks service request to display pertinent Salesforce data. Today, York Region staff enjoy a seamless behind-the-scenes integration.

Since the integration went live, York Region’s Cityworks administration team has been working with the Access York team to measure and qualify the changes and impact. They plan to analyze captured data for reduction in call transfers, reduction in response time, and improvements to first-time call resolution. Aside from the tangible benefits, the teams have already seen a reduction in duplication, increased collaboration between several program areas, and elimination of manual data entry to action work.

The Salesforce integration was just one of many innovative solutions developed with the Cityworks API in recent years. With each new success, York Region employees have embraced automation to improve service delivery and provide reliable and consistent outcomes. These solutions have afforded York Region teams new flexibility and agility in becoming more productive with Cityworks.

By Praful Mistry, asset management data and business intelligence program manager, Regional Municipality of York

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