To provide exceptional citizen service, the City of Bellevue, Washington, is committed to innovation and responsive government. In 2005, Bellevue launched its “Service First” initiative to streamline access to public services and information. To support the initiative, the city sought a software solution that could automate, coordinate, and track service requests among its many lines of business. Bellevue wanted its solution to manage every service request, from the simplest to the most complex, enhance citizen self-service, integrate case management across city departments, and centralize reporting. In 2008, Bellevue deployed Microsoft Dynamics® CRM software. With this solution, the city can collect, monitor, and integrate service requests across departments, create a broad view of service demand, and enhance the service experience for its customers.
Incorporated in 1953, the City of Bellevue, Washington, is today the fifth largest city in the state, with a population of 118,000 people. Located 11 miles east of Seattle, in the heart of Washington’s population and economic center, Bellevue has, over the last several decades, shed its bedroom-community status and grown into a thriving, cosmopolitan metropolis. By 2000, nearly 25 percent of the city’s residents were born outside the United States.
As in most large cities, Bellevue’s growth and diversity has created challenges and opportunities. As the city has grown, it has become major employment center for software and Internet development, digital media, and biotechnology.
The City of Bellevue is dedicated to providing exceptional public service to its citizens, through innovation and a commitment to responsive city government. That dedication has paid off. Almost 90 percent of Bellevue citizens report that they feel their city is headed in the right direction, and that their tax dollars are well spent. In 2008, Fortune Small Business Magazine named Bellevue the best place to live and launch a new business in the United States.
In 2005, Bellevue launched its “Service First” initiative, which includes a Service First desk that provides one-stop access to a variety of services. At the Service First desk a customer can do everything from apply for a business license or pay a utility bill to sign up for an exercise class or inquire about a permit variance.
“At Bellevue, we think we have a unique view on service delivery,” says Laurie Leland, Service First Division Manager at the City of Bellevue. “One of our guiding principles is that customers shouldn’t have to understand our organization in order to access our services and information.”
While the Service First initiative was helping to streamline access to services, the city needed a software solution to help integrate communication among city departments, automate manual processes, and monitor service requests. At the Service First desk, inquiries from customers might come in through phone, walk-in traffic, U.S. mail, or e-mail, and Service First coordinators had no efficient way to coordinate and track these requests, including requests that needed to be forwarded to other city departments for action.
Departments working together to close a service loop relied heavily on e-mail. In some cases, if a complex request required the involvement of multiple departments or teams, the request could get lost, with no effective way to retrieve it.
In other cases, if a customer contacted multiple departments seeking assistance, the city had no way to track that effort, or even make sure the customer was provided with an accurate, consistent reply. Nor did the city have an effective way to develop statistics or identify trends in customer requests. In fact, many departments were tracking the same information in different databases and duplicating efforts.
“Bellevue has a great many lines of business, and each had its own method for keeping track of customer contacts,” says Martha Evans, Project Manager in the IT Department at the City of Bellevue. “We needed a citywide method to unify and standardize our processes.”
Meanwhile, the city was experiencing an increasing volume of requests while having to meet new mandates for performance. For instance, the City Clerk’s office has seen a 16 percent increase in requests for public records in each of the last four years, while at the same time having to meet new state compliance standards for tracking, reporting, and responding to records requests, with fines from U.S.$5 to $100 per record, per day for noncompliance.
Yet, the Clerk’s office was responding to public-records requests through a largely manual process. All communications and relevant documents had to be collected and maintained in physical files. Each file could contain numerous printed and scanned documents, creating hours of extra work over the life cycle of a request, which could bridge several city departments and last weeks or even months.
Bellevue wanted a solution that it could use to manage, track, and respond to the entire range of service requests, from the simplest to the most complex. The city needed an enterprise-scale solution that could grow as the city expanded services and worked with its regional partner governments.
The city wanted to enhance citizen self-service, create an integrated case management system across all departments, and centralize reporting for faster workflow and decision making. If it could, the city also wanted to develop a solution that would be simple for staff to adopt and that would integrate easily with its existing IT infrastructure.
The City of Bellevue wanted to deploy a customer relationship management (CRM) system to consolidate information, track trends in the quantity and types of requests the city received, set performance and service-quality benchmarks, and enhance response consistency throughout the organization.
After evaluating a number of government-oriented and commercially oriented CRM systems, Bellevue chose Microsoft Dynamics® CRM business management software—a key element of the Microsoft® Citizen Service Platform (CSP)—to help the Service First desk and other city departments generate service requests, track requests, and manage the city’s knowledge base.
||With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we’re providing access to services without asking customers to know the details of our organization. That will be critical to enhancing our service delivery.
Service First Division Manager, City of Bellevue
With Microsoft Dynamics CRM and the CSP, the City of Bellevue would be able to deploy a set of tools to create and maintain a comprehensive view of customer requests, from first contact through service fulfillment, and address increasing customer expectations in a controlled and cost-effective way (see below: Citizen Service Platform).
The city decided to implement Microsoft Dynamics CRM, in part, because it would easily integrate with the existing Microsoft technologies used by Bellevue and its regional partners, especially the Microsoft Office Outlook® messaging and collaboration client, which city employees use to send and read e-mail.
“Microsoft Dynamics CRM was an obvious choice for us because of its integration with Outlook,” says Toni Cramer, Chief Information Officer at the City of Bellevue. “One hundred percent of our employees were already using Outlook on a daily basis, which we knew would lessen the learning curve in the organization.”
In 2008, Bellevue worked with Ascentium, a Microsoft Gold Certified Partner, to develop and deploy a customized internal case management system based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM. In May 2009, Bellevue launched the second phase of the deployment, an interactive customer Web portal linked to Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
The City Clerk’s office at the City of Bellevue helped to develop the business requirements for the system and was an early adopter of the case management application. Now, when a public-records request comes into the Clerk’s office, staff can use Microsoft Dynamics CRM to log, track, respond to, and maintain ownership of the request throughout its life cycle (figure 1).
“Now we can use the CRM system to track all the correspondence associated with a record request,” says Kyle Stannert, Public Records Manager in the City Clerk’s Office at the City of Bellevue. “We can automatically capture and track all of the e-mail between ourselves and the requestor, and between ourselves and the relevant departments.”
In addition to the Clerk’s office, any of the city’s 14 government departments that have adopted the Microsoft Dynamics CRM system, including the City Manager’s Office, the City Council Office, and the Service First desk, use a similar process to gather any needed data for the response. At the Service First desk, the city uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM to track requests and distribute them to the appropriate departments, managing initial call handling, case creation, integration with back-office applications, and request resolution from within a single system.
|The City of Bellevue uses Microsoft Dynamics CRM to automate tracking of complex records requests. |
When a resident or business in Bellevue enters a query or service request using the customer Web portal, interactive forms autofill cells or display drop-down menus to lead them toward the services and information they are looking for. For returning customers who set up an account, the forms pre-populate information from their profile. When they submit the request, they are automatically assigned a verification number and sent an e-mail confirming that the request was received by the appropriate department.
Using the Microsoft Virtual Earth™ online mapping platform a customer can provide the city with the location of a problem when they don’t know the exact address or when it’s in a park, or other location with no street address. At any point in the request life cycle, customers can use the portal to track the status of an open case, even using Virtual Earth to see the relevant locations.
The IT department at the City of Bellevue has found Microsoft Dynamics CRM to be very versatile, and using xRM capabilities, was able to easily tailor the solution to meet its requirements (see below: xRM).“Out of the box, the solution is a little more oriented toward a sales-force application,” says David Kelly, Business Systems Manager at the City of Bellevue. “But we were able to orient it towards a public-sector application very easily and successfully.”
By deploying a customer relationship management solution using Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the City of Bellevue can develop standardized processes to collect, track, and integrate service requests across all its departments. The city has created a broader view of the demand for services, provided system transparency, and enhanced the customer experience for its constituents.
||The value of centralizing is really for the public, so that they have one consistent place to go for 24/7 access to information and services. People want information, and now we can make that as easy as possible.
||Kyle Stannert Public Records Manager, City Clerk’s Office, City of Bellevue
“With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we’re providing access to services without asking customers to know the details of our organization,” says Leland. “That will be critical to enhancing our service delivery.”
Enhanced Customer Experience
Using Microsoft Dynamics CRM to track requests and monitor the timeliness of responses, the Service First desk and other departments at Bellevue can keep cases from falling through cracks and make sure every service request gets completed. By providing consistent information in a timely way, the city can set appropriate expectations with its customers.
“The value of centralizing is really for the public, so that they have one consistent place to go for 24/7 access to information and services,” says Stannert. “People want information, and now we can make that as easy as possible.”
Automated and Coordinated Processes
By automating service request processes with Microsoft Dynamics CRM, the city can more effectively manage and track cases, and enhance coordination between the Service First desk and the City Clerk, City Manager, City Council, and other city departments.
“By using the CRM system to create document requests and send them to the relevant parties, we’re creating huge efficiency gains and giving all staff an opportunity to build a knowledge base so we can give accurate, consistent answers,” says Stannert.
And, because the City Clerk’s Office can now automatically track all internal and external correspondence and document collection associated with a public-records request, relevant staff can save hours per request, while providing better compliance reporting.
Before CRM it would take up to an hour to log a new request, provide an initial response to a customer, distribute the request to departments, and document each of these steps. That processing time has been cut in half, and many tasks require no staff time to complete.
In 2001, the City of Bellevue partnered with eight neighboring cities to form the eCityGov Alliance, an independent, inter-local agency that provides cross-boundary Internet service portals for residents and businesses in the member cities. The Alliance helps makes providing services more affordable for smaller jurisdictions, while creating significant efficiencies for larger partners like Bellevue.
With Microsoft Dynamics CRM, Bellevue will be able to scale its solution not only to meet its own expanding requirements, but also to integrate with its regional partners, to help them improve their constituent services.
In the past, Bellevue measured customer service performance based on surveys of citizen satisfaction with the city as a whole. While the surveys indicated high levels of customer satisfaction, the city had no organization wide quantitative metrics for customer response.
While some individual departments tracked the number or types of calls received or average time to respond, prior to CRM, there was no method to assemble an objective citywide measure of customer service.
With its CRM solution, Bellevue can now monitor and evaluate what types of service requests it gets, how long they take to resolve, and who works on them. Using the data it collects, the city can set performance standards, identify trends, and better allocate resources.
“We can use built-in features in Microsoft Dynamics CRM to run regular reports at the workgroup level, the department level, and administratively,” says Evans. “With objective, quantitative measures of our performance, including response times, we’ll be able to identify whether and where we may need to improve, and by identifying trends in citizen questions or concerns, we can be proactive in developing ways to enhance services.”
When users respond to a service request sent through Office Outlook, it is automatically captured in Microsoft Dynamics CRM. Instead of manually entering information into a Microsoft Office Excel® spreadsheet, adding it to an ad hoc database, or learning a new work process, users can just work in Office Outlook. Most users may even be unaware that they are working in the new system.
“The majority of our folks aren’t responsible for tracking customer requests, just responding to them,” says Kelly. “When they get a question that comes out of CRM through e-mail and all they have to do is reply, the simplicity of that is a huge win for us.”
||The Microsoft Citizen Service Platform enables government organizations to transform the delivery of services by improving customer service, driving service efficiency, and providing greater transparency and accountability. The Citizen Service Platform provides Microsoft partners and customers with an easier way to build and deploy modern solutions by providing “building block” templates that are designed to meet the needs of government applications. These templates take advantage of the core infrastructure platforms, and also provide templates based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and Microsoft Office SharePoint® Server. Some capabilities are provided by standard products and therefore need no further customization. Further, Microsoft partners can provide compatible applications that integrate easily with the Citizen Service Platform to meet more specialized, complex, or region-specific requirements. For more information, visit: |
||xRM is a Microsoft application platform layer that accelerates the development of relational, line-of-business applications through point and click customizations. Built on the Microsoft technology building blocks such as the Windows® operating systems, Microsoft SQL Server® data management software, and the Microsoft .NET Framework, xRM is the development environment the Microsoft Dynamics CRM packaged application is built on.|
About Microsoft Dynamics
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