The Windy City's Improved CX

This week The City That Works took a huge step forward in working a little better for residents. It’s a CX improvement that we would call Customer Experience in any other circumstance, but maybe is best to call an improvement in the Chicago Experience.

The city has unveiled a whole new 311 system to make it easier to get city services when they’re needed. If it’s potholes, fallen tree branches, or leaky fire hydrants (all things folks in our Chicago office have dialed 311 for in the past), the new system provides a much smoother experience for reporting and, more importantly, receiving estimates of when to expect the city to respond and the ability to track the progress of the request.

Chicago’s Mayor Rahm Emmanuel put it this way:

“The new, modernized 311 is a smarter system, it is a stronger system, and it is a system that works in real-time that will transform the relationship between residents and City service,” Mayor Emanuel said. “We built this new system with Chicagoans, for Chicagoans to make their lives easier and strengthen neighborhood services as the fundamental building blocks of strong, healthy communities.”

It’s a smart improvement to the Chicago experience that has learned from the CX lessons of the companies who have driven innovations. The expectation that consumers (or in this case, citizens) have are set by the leaders in the field. If we can see live tracking for a pizza on the way to our house, or a bus on the way to the nearest stop, why can’t we track the status of graffiti removal? No company, organization or even city is immune from being compared to the market leaders and it’s critical to ensure that your customers feel that their experience is keeping pace.

But Chicago has gone beyond just keeping pace with Dominos and letting individuals know when their own requests are fulfilled. Chicago is making sure the experience works on many levels by making it easier to find information, submit requests and track status of requests and giving residents the ability to find information or submit requests through multiple media channels, including City of Chicago’s first ever 311 mobile app.

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The system is also proactive in showing everything going on and allowing users to search by location. Here’s a look at the 311 requests near our office in the River North neighborhood. (Don’t worry, it’s not our building with the violation!)

Being able to see the entirety of the requests and, in the app, even see what has been requested nearby before submitting a new request serves both sides of the 311 coin. The city avoids duplicate requests and the waste that comes with them and residents feel better knowing that the city is either already working on the problem they spotted or at least working on a bunch of other improvements to the neighborhood.

In total, the Chicago experience is a little better now than it was before. If only 311 could do something about how cold it is.