One of FixMyStreet Pro’s key features is its ability to enable councils to automatically keep residents informed on the status of their reports as they progress.
Status updates are important because, according to research we carried out with YouGov last year, receiving updates in response to a report is one of the most important things citizens expect from a reporting service. It’s also the thing that would most effectively stop them from chasing updates via other channels, which drives up the cost of reports for councils.
Templates for report status updates can be created and managed directly from the FixMyStreet Pro administration dashboard, or they can be pulled from an integrated case management system used by the council. Each time a report’s status is changed, an update will be sent to the report-maker and to anyone else subscribed to the report.
Common status updates relate to scenarios such as, but not limited to:
There is no limit to the number of templates you can create within FixMyStreet Pro, and they can be edited or deleted whenever necessary by staff, enabling you to quickly address any seasonal or situational changes.
So that’s what status updates are, but what makes a good one?
For updates to be effective in reducing avoidable follow-up contact and failure demand, they need to accurately reflect what’s happening with the report. That means as well as explaining what you are going to do about a problem, you also need to explain if you are not able to do anything and why that is.
Honest and open updates help you to educate residents on your intervention criteria, manage expectations during periods of high demand and discourage despondency and disengagement even if a problem cannot be fixed.
Make it relevant
Tailor your updates to the different types of problems residents are able to report to you so that they know what to expect once a report has been submitted. It helps to outline the timeframe within which you will respond to different problems, or explain why a particular problem may be higher or lower on your priority list.
Use accessible language
Take care to ensure your updates are understandable to everyone who may receive them. Avoid using technical jargon that only makes sense to members of staff, or codes from your integrated systems that won’t mean anything to residents.
Additionally, consider using the local words for things where appropriate to apply an extra level of accessibility to the language within your updates.
Signpost to more information
While it’s good to provide detail in your updates, it’s also important to keep them concise. Put the essential information in the update and include a link to another web page or document where the recipient can find more information if they want to.
Signposting can also be used to direct residents to emergency contact details, additional services and even customer satisfaction surveys.
Don’t create a dead end
If the update you provide is to inform the report-maker that the issue is not your responsibility, try to provide information on who is responsible, or assistance on where they might be able to find this out for themselves. This will help to reduce the likelihood of the report-maker getting back in touch.
Acknowledge the value of the report
Finally, don’t forget to thank the resident for their report. Research shows that the main reason why residents report problems is because they want to improve the place where they live. Acknowledging this in your responses helps to improve the experience for residents and encourages continued commitment to helping you care for your area. This is particularly important in instances where the problem cannot be fixed.
Alongside transparent status updates sent to residents after they have made a report, FixMyStreet Pro equips councils with a few useful ways to manage expectations beforehand, too.
One of these is its site-wide messaging functionality, which displays a message from the council to report-makers in multiple places to inform them of, for example, expected delays in responses due to increased seasonal demand.
Councils can also schedule these messages to display only during certain times, such as out of hours or during bank holidays.
Another way FixMyStreet Pro helps with this is by enabling councils to assign in-category messages which display during the report workflow. These can be used in a number of ways, such as to help educate on intervention criteria to ensure the report can be actioned or divert emergencies.
For more information about FixMyStreet Pro and its features, get in touch with us.
Image: Reuben Juarez