While cities and countries are locked down, the public sector must keep running. It is the foundation in our society and without it the wheels will stop turning. Luckily, this is not an endless lockdown. The wheels will – slowly but steady – return to normal. But. This will take time. When society opens up and restrictions are loosened, we still have to practice physical distancing. But how does the distancing work in the Canadian public sector when citizens return to City Hall to get help?
We have looked at some of the most important areas you have to focus on, if you meet with citizens– both in-person and virtually.
Plan and execute for post-COVID19 now
Many citizens are currently staying home and limiting their contact with other people. This will continue in the near future. But, when restrictions inevitably are loosened, citizens will return to the public sector. They will need certificates, permits, applications, benefits and so on. All the services public offices deliver, are still in demand after COVID19.
Looking at data from the Danish public sector, May is one of the busiest months during the year and since Denmark locked down the 12th of March, upwards of 400.000 people have not been able to visit a public office, compared to the same period in 2019.
Recovering lost time will take months!
With demands to keep distance, - and a limit on the number of people in the waiting and handling areas - time bookings and appointments must be possible in all citizen-facing departments.
FrontDesk’s queue and appointment management system is born in the world’s most digital public sector. For e.g. public offices, health centers and student services, the system offers tailor-made features for your needs. It has already proven its strengths in Canada, optimizing workflows in several public offices. Many features support physical distancing demands we have to comply with in the foreseeable future. The system ensures a consistent customer flow throughout the day eliminating peak times and crowded waiting areas.
Here are 5 questions to consider, if you are responsible for service delivery in the public sector:
1 Do citizens have to show up in person?
Consider taking the initial meeting with a citizen virtually. Use the phone or a video conference link to meet the citizen in the comfort of his or hers home. Citizens, who the last few months, have been told to limit personal contact, will most likely have second thoughts about introducing personal contact from day one. But their needs still exist. Use FrontDesk online reservation tool to help citizens book a virtual appointment, after going through an online screen process of the subject of the call.
In other words, call the citizen when he/she is ready and let your services come to the citizen’s home – virtually.
2 What about your waiting and high foot traffic areas?
The best option is to remove your waiting area. Remove chairs, tables etc. and let FrontDesk’s queue management software eliminate the need for a waiting area. The smart software plans the day to avoid peaks and thus eliminating the need for citizens waiting. FrontDesk’s data from North America and Europe show that close to all public offices who use FrontDesk have a negative waiting time. This means, that citizens literally do not wait in the waiting area, as they are served before their actual reserved time.
Of course, a few chairs are important for citizens who show up well ahead of their scheduled time and for those who need a place to rest. Be sure to leave a minimum of 2m/6ft between the chairs to comply with physical distancing all while making sure you comply with accessibility needs.
3 Do you know who, when and what is coming when you reopen?
When restrictions are loosened and you are ready to open up for citizens, contractors etc. let them have the option of booking an appointment for your services. Using FrontDesk’s online reservation tool, you can let the tool screen the citizens for their needs and thus be better prepared when they arrive at their scheduled time. This way, you know who is coming, when they are coming and why they are coming.
This leads us to the next point below. Planning your day!
4 Can you plan your day efficiently?
When cities reopen, you might want to work in reduced hours with staff alternating their hours and days. This approach is widely used during the COVID19 crisis in various sectors and could easily be implemented in FrontDesk’s system as a way to ease things back to normal.
With the time management functionality in FrontDesk’s system, you create your own schedule of e.g. when you are open, who is working, which services are available, how long time a service take. But, most importantly, you decide the time/buffer between appointments, providing enough time between appointments for citizens, contractors etc. to show up and leave without bumping into the next person.
5 Do you want to provide better customer service?
Reports and surveys show that a citizen’s satisfaction depends on the wait-time. In other words, citizens experience a less satisfactory service if the wait-time was too long. But, it should not be this way. It is not your staff’s fault a citizen had to wait before being served. Luckily, you can improve your customer satisfaction from day one after using FrontDesk’s queue management software to plan your - and your citizen’s - day.
Get started today
Let us help you get ready for re-opening. You will be up and running within 1 day.Right now, FrontDesk can be used without any commitment and is fully refundable within 30 days of use – from when you reopen.
Read an inspiring case story from City of Copenhagen:Time reservation has removed the queues completely and citizens are on average served 2 minutes before the reserved time