The City of Minneapolis Service Center Reimagines the Public Experience with Qmatic

 

The City of Minneapolis Service Center was the first office to open in the new 11-story sustainably designed City of Minneapolis Public Service Building in downtown Minneapolis. The Service Center is a hub for public access to City resources where residents and businesses can find all the information and services they need in one place, a one-stop shop. The new office consolidated City staff and resources that were previously spread across five different offices, improving access to the resources for the public. By prioritizing Minneapolis residents and businesses first and transforming the way customers interact with the City, the Service Center is providing a customer-centric experience that delivers outcomes based on the community’s needs, expectations, and preferences.

Straightforward and Accessible Services

Driven by the philosophy to provide information and services to everyone, the Service Center strives to offer straightforward and accessible services. This is achieved by removing language barriers, accommodating disabilities, and providing services and information to fulfill their diverse customer needs.

The City of Minneapolis Service Center

The Service Center performs over 250 individual functions and offers a variety of services such as business licensing, permits, police records, utility billing, payments, and more. "The City of Minneapolis Service Center is an all-in-one location. We combined five different service counters that were spread throughout downtown Minneapolis into one location to better meet customer needs," said Breanna Phelps, Service Center Manager at the City of Minneapolis Service Center. "The Service Center is used by a wide variety of people including Minneapolis residents, businesses and contractors. Anyone that has any business with the City or needs any help with City services can find assistance in our Service Center."

Equity and Accessibility for all Customers

The City of Minneapolis Service Center is a long-term client of Qmatic. With the move to the new Public Service Building, the Service Center was looking to upgrade its current Qmatic solution to be as inclusive as possible and to ensure that its services were easy-to-use and accessible. "Being equitable and accessible for all customers, creating efficiencies in the way we function, and decreasing customer wait times were all key focuses with our new Service Center," said Phelps.

The City of Minneapolis Service Center services a population that speaks many different languages in addition to English. As such, providing multilanguage support across every touchpoint is essential, ensuring all information can be easily understood by whoever is viewing it. "One challenge at our previous counters was the limitations on how we could help communities where English was a second language. We had translation services available, but we didn't have a robust system that allowed us to provide a variety of ways of working with and helping them,” said Phelps.

Another key aspect was to make it easier for customers that are visually impaired or that use a wheelchair to interact with the Service Center services by enhancing the customer flows, ensuring that no one would get left behind in the process.

By upgrading to Qmatic's hosted Customer Journey Management platform – Qmatic Orchestra, the Service Center can utilize Qmatic's full suite of solutions: from appointments, queue management, and digital signage to digital solutions for virtual queuing and virtual meetings. With access to this new set of capabilities, the Service Center is now better equipped to meet today's demands of a streamlined customer experience, with intuitive, accessible, and inclusive services at every stage of the journey.

Creating an Accessible and Innovative Omnichannel Experience

Today, the City of Minneapolis Service Center serves both booked appointments and walk-ins. They also offer virtual meetings with virtual counters available inside the Service Center. Upon arrival, residents can use a self-service kiosk to select a service and get a ticket or check-in for an appointment. The kiosks are wheelchair accessible, support multiple languages, and are equipped with a keypad for the visually impaired. Customers can also get a ticket on their phone by scanning a QR Code.

Qmatic Intro 17 Kiosk with Accessibility Keypad

"We've implemented a wide variety of service options with Qmatic. Some of the biggest changes were with the customer ticket. Kiosks were installed as the primary option for receiving a ticket. Each kiosk uses a touch screen or a keypad for the visually impaired. Kiosks are available in four languages – English, Spanish, Somali, and Hmong. We also have a Mobile Ticket option for those customers that want their ticket on their phone,” said Phelps.

Mobile Ticket option for virtual queuing at The City of Minneapolis Service Center

The development and implementation of a seamless, integrated, and strategic customer experience that matches the customer experience that so many have become accustomed to in the private sector has offered many benefits. "The benefits that Qmatic provides our customers is the ability to have control of their experience in the Service Center being able to create an appointment and check themselves in or from the number of kiosks that we have available in our space. Our ability to set up the access points for customers is important as well. It allows us to know what service a customer needs and to transfer a customer if they need to see a subject matter expert. It also helps bypass our main counter, if the service they need requires the help of a subject matter expert only," said Jauna Young, Service Center Manager at the City of Minneapolis Service Center.

More Efficient and Personalized Meetings with Appointments

The introduction of appointments has been a major improvement for residents and staff alike. Residents can go to the Service Center website and make an appointment at their own convenience. This allows the Service Center to provide more efficient and personalized meetings and utilize its resources better while creating a better balance between pre-booked appointments and walk-ins. "Appointments have been a huge benefit to us and our customers. They are easy to schedule through our City webpage and provide the flexibility to give our customers a wide range of date and time options. Available dates and times are easily adjusted based on our needs and situation so we can balance the availability of appointments with staffing needs," said Phelps.

Staff interaction at the City of Minneapolis Service Center

As the implementation of the new Qmatic setup took place during the pandemic, the Service Center utilized many features which made it possible to quickly respond to pandemic-related challenges and continue to offer services. This kept both residents and staff safe while adhering to COVID protocols.” The availability of online appointment booking was a crucial resource for the Service Center and our customers. It helped us with our continuity of operations plan during the height of the pandemic, so we could measure the traffic that was coming in and plan staffing accordingly to make sure we kept current with the social distancing standards and cleaning," stated Young. "Qmatic helped us stay organized with more robust reporting as well as its flexible appointment set up, which allowed us to better manage staffing needs and resources for serving customers. It was critical to keeping us and our customers safe."

Adapting to a Hybrid Workforce

Another innovative solution that the Service Center introduced during the pandemic was to incorporate virtual counters throughout the center. This enabled the Service Center to adapt to a hybrid workforce and offer residents and businesses services digitally. Staff members were now able to provide services via Microsoft Teams from their homes keeping staff and customers safe. "Because the Service Center opened during the pandemic, all of our department staff were working remotely and unable to be in person as our Service Center Agents. With that in mind and to make sure we were helping customers fully and completely, we set up these virtual counters. When a ticket arrived in a department staff queue, the staff member could join a Teams video meeting at any one of our nine department staff counters and call the customer’s ticket number. The customer would come up to the designated counter and staff were able to help them as if they were here in person. We would not have been able to do that without Qmatic,” stated Phelps.

Matching Service Request with the Right Department Staff

When setting up a system for different services and queues it's paramount that everything runs smoothly for those that are waiting in line and for the staff members that serve them. By having access to information on who is waiting, and the service requested, staff can seamlessly transfer and match the customer to the right staff member, creating efficient meetings and a personalized experience for customers visiting the Service Center.

“We've made some customizations to the ticket itself to better collaborate with department staff (subject matter experts) and serve our customers. We've added items like a notes field to provide more information. If we're moving a ticket to another queue, whoever receives it is going to see exactly what the customer needs and the customer won’t have to repeat information to them when the ticket is called. We also use a setup called Add a Service. Instead of just transferring a ticket to a queue and keeping the delivered service name regardless of what queue it arrives in, we use Add a Service to ensure the service name is more specific to what that customer is here for. It gives our department staff a quick view of the customer’s needs before they meet with them," said Phelps.

A Great Fit for the City of Minneapolis Service Center

10 months after opening its doors to the public, the Service Center had served over 13,000 customers, exceeding the 1,000 customers per month that they had previously anticipated due to the pandemic. During this time, the process of working with Qmatic was positive and seen as a great fit for the City of Minneapolis Service Center. "The process of working with Qmatic went really well. They were easy to work with. They challenged us and pushed us by asking questions to make sure that we were getting the most out of the system," stated Phelps. "I would absolutely recommend it to any public jurisdiction that has a public service center. Qmatic is a great system for ticketing and queuing and much more."

“I would absolutely recommend it to any public jurisdiction that has a public service center. Qmatic is a great system for ticketing and queuing and much more”

Breanna Phelps, Service Center Manager, The City of Minneapolis Service Center

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