Microsoft Dynamics CRM Success Story
Efficient Citizen-Oriented Governance Supported by CRM Technologies
“Our mission is to modernize governance by making access to Panamanian government entities faster, easier and more current. With the Centro Nacional de Atención Ciudadana and the service platform concept based on technologies from Rock Solid Technologies and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, we are achieving that.”
Customer : Panama's National Government
• The new administration required a platform that would operate a national center for citizen assistance in an efficient manner, coordinating with different state agencies.
• The Respond© system from Rock Solid Technologies was implemented, an application for governments developed on Microsoft Dynamics CRM.
• The service’s call time went down from minutes to seconds
• Over 80% of cases are closed in the short term
• Access available 24x7, 365 days, toll free from anywhere in the country to any government entity
Panama's National Government implemented a Citizen Services Center based on Microsoft’s Citizen Service Platform (CSP) strategy, powered by Microsoft Dynamics CRM technology and Respond© software from Rock Solid Technologies. It is a contact system with various channels for receiving complaints, claims, ideas and suggestions: a country-wide toll free line (311), a website and an email address, as an integrated whole. This initiative was implemented in just 60 days; and within 6 months half of the government agencies concentrating most of the citizens' concerns were operating on the new platform. Calls that used to take minutes to be addressed —often with wrong answers— now get resolved in seconds, building a reliable and accurate record of citizen complaints that was previously impossible, and driving highly effective follow-up and resolution tools for cases, elevating taxpayer satisfaction and dramatically improving the quality of governance. In just 6 months of testing over 12,000 service requests were resolved.
Panama is a country located in Central America and well known for its inter-oceanic canal as the “World’s Bridge” and “Heart of the Universe”; it has 3.5 million inhabitants. The country's Government consists of 14 ministries, 46 decentralized state agencies, and 11 separate entities reporting to the President, as well as judicial and legislative bodies.
Under the first projects undertaken by the present state administration, it was found that citizens had no proper channels for addressing complaints, claims or suggestions. Many citizens weren’t aware of the phone numbers which should be contacted, since the relevant information was confusing; in fact, Panamanians were unclear which entity was responsible for the solution to each of their problems or concerns, often creating discontent and wastes of time. Assistance services from each agency lacked the technology and processes to effectively address incidents that were reported. The citizens’ life got very complicated when trying to complain about public services, obtaining a response was a huge struggle; this would not only affect their quality of life but entailed a significant cost to the state and encouraged undesirable practices, such as turning to “connections” to help resolve their situations.
In the case of claims or complaints made by telephone, it often happened that after a problematic communication, the outcome would be that such claim should be made in person, so the citizen gave up. On the other hand, a typo of media reporting had been established, with street protests demanding the presence of Ministers to the media at the scene of events, and once they were there requesting them to commit to providing a solution.
“Each agency had —or claimed to have— some resources allocated to the assistance of citizens. Looking at it from a governance overview, this was highly inefficient, it increased the need for staff, the service was not good, there were no records or measurements of any kind; in addition, people had to pay for the call,” Rodolfo Caballero Rivera, National Director of Citizen Services, explained.
Faced with this, they developed a project for a “less bureaucratic” government public assistance. The President of the Republic, Mr. Ricardo Martinelli, decided to create, for the first time in history, a Citizen Services Center. The developed project aimed to create a single service center focused on citizens that would provide services to all agencies, while allowing the state to save on customer service facilities, personnel, and technology and communications infrastructure.
“By order of the President, the Centro Nacional de Atención Ciudadana was created, through Decree-Law 555 on June 24th, 2010. Supported by the Autoridad Nacional para la Innovación Gubernamental (National Authority for Government Innovation), they established the whole infrastructure for 311, which serves the public through various channels: by telephone, email and a website, all complaints, claims, ideas and suggestions from the Panamanian people across the national territory, free of charge either from a land line or a mobile phone, or via the Internet,” Caballero Rivera adds. The goal for 311 is to improve public citizen services and contribute to better governance, making it more reliable for people.
After a planning period, different technological alternatives were evaluated, including solutions from Motorola, Tivoli's CRM and Siebel from Oracle. “These options had different problems: their implementation would require a lot of time, or they were completely in English, there were no local consultants, or they were very expensive. In that search for the ideal solution that would adapt to our needs, we found the Respond© system from Puerto Rican software company Rock Solid Technologies, which is based on Microsoft Dynamics CRM and other Microsoft technologies that power the Microsoft Citizen Service Platform (CSP) and we found it to be the solution we needed. It was preset for a Latin American government, which anticipated it to be a faster customization to the Government of Panama and in fact it: we were able to implement Respond© in 60 days,” said the official.
Through a consortium that included Telecarrier — Cable Onda (providing the Datacenter), Medata (CallCenter operator), Rock Solid Technologies and Microsoft, it was decided to deploy an outsourced system that provides IT infrastructure to the Centro Nacional de Atención Ciudadana for its daily operations. It began with a pilot test of 20 entities that were incorporated gradually, through official launches in the national media. Six months into the operation of the new platform, 36 state institutions are operating on 311, that is 50% of all state agencies representing the Legislative, Executive and Judicial bodies, Public Companies and Foundations; before the end of 2011 another 36 entities will be added. “This means that we are getting the entire state apparatus to offer free and easy access to 3 and a half million Panamanians very quickly, using a unified platform for receiving all kinds of citizen requests for public services like education, health, water and transport among others, which not only helps solve problems quickly and accurately, but also helps improve how people perceive the State,” explains Eng. Eduardo E. Jaén, General Manager of the Autoridad para la Innovación Gubernamental.
For example, the Instituto de Acueductos y Alcantarillados Nacionales (IDAAN) in the system Respond©, which supplies water to nearly 90% of the population, was one of the first to appreciate the benefits of 311. “We were able to start having accurate and reliable information of the places where there was a water leak or where supplies were needed, in order to provide solutions for communities. During the water crisis, caused by the natural disaster of late 2010, the information from 311 was instrumental to bring water to communities that were experiencing shortages. So the quality of assistance improved notably and that was clearly perceived by the people,” said Mr. Manuel Gonzalez Ruiz, Executive Director of IDAAN.
“An important aspect that led us to choose the Rock Solid Technologies and Microsoft solution was the simplicity with which we were able to adapt it to our specific needs, and how simple it was for those intended to use it. Many officials are not familiar with computers, however with this software interface, which is very easy to use, they are managing very well,” said Eng. Vielka Mora, Director of Operations of 311 — Centro Nacional de Atención Ciudadana. All users of the system, whether it's the services center operators or the nexus to each agency (called Enlaces Ejecutivos, or “Executive Liaisons”), access the Respond© application through a website. The front end runs on Microsoft Dynamics CRM, which in turn runs on an infrastructure comprised of Windows Server 2008 and SQL Server 2008.
Each entity appointed an Executive Liaison and Operations Liaison. The Operations Liaison is the one who receives notifications from the Centro Nacional de Atención Ciudadana regarding received issues incumbent upon that body, and is also responsible for bringing back the official response from each of the directors and heads of department of the institution. The Executive Liaison is the one who tells the Minister or Director of that entity when the terms of Service Level Agreements (SLA's) are being met and makes the arrangements with them to take the necessary measures to respond and resolve all cases without exception
Rock Solid Technologies, a Microsoft Gold Partner, developed Respond© with .NET on Microsoft Dynamics and in recent years has gained extensive experience in local government projects on a local and national level, in their native Puerto Rico and others in the region. “In the case of Panama's 311, the biggest challenge was the urgency with which the authorities wanted to have the Centro Nacional de Atención Ciudadana running. Due to their evident willingness and support for the project, but also due to the features on the technology we used, we achieved in 60 days what using other tools easily would’ve normally taken 6 months,” said Eng. Angel L. Perez, Vice President of Rock Solid Technologies. The software localization also meant an adjustment to the way people speak in Panama, and was facilitated by the Microsoft development tools used. It was also necessary to solve the interoperability with Asterisk, an open source system used by Medata for call center operations, and with the Centro Nacional de Atención Ciudadana legacy PHP web portal, where you can also register complaints or claims online. “We are confident that solutions like Respond© and Microsoft Dynamics help the Government of Panama meet its people's needs more efficiently. Governments exist to serve the public and such technologies as those used in the 311 service, help improve the quality of governance substantially” Eng. Pérez added.
Today's standards in the call center, according to statistics from the first 6 months, show that from 400 thousand calls, 90% are answered within 15 minutes (it took several minutes before, or the calls were not even answered by the right person within each institution); the citizens' concerns are recorded in the system in less than 4 minutes. “Never before had a government system addressed the complaints, claims, ideas and suggestions from the public like this one. We had to map 7,085 state processes to achieve the best response time, so that the referrals were effective and could solve problems quickly. Notifying each case's closure significantly increases citizen satisfaction. We have Quality Consultants, engineering specialists who are assigned eleven agencies each, to identify projects that support quality management and innovation management in the state. Meanwhile, the Autoridad Nacional para la Innovación Gubernamental (AIG, National Authority for Government Innovation) has the authority to convene all Ministries, Departments and other agencies weekly to discuss how the assistance for citizen complaints is working in each specific sector,” Rodolfo Caballero noted.
Currently, the Centro Nacional de Atención Ciudadana works 24x7 and answers over 65,000 calls per month, 96% of which are complaints (with a short term closure rate of over 80%), 2.5% are claims and the rest are suggestions or requests for information. There have been over 25,000 requests for services already and 12,000 have been resolved in just six months, despite having gone through a natural disaster that left the entire capital city without water for more than 40 days last December. “We are solving 600 complaints a week on average”, people at 311 say
Also, thanks to Respond© and Microsoft Dynamics CRM, each agency can get a monthly detailed report of cases opened, closed, dropped, type of communication, channel chosen by people, resolution process, success rates within the specified period in each service agreement with taxpayers, a ranking of the issues that concern people most, receptiveness by province, district and township, and even a breakdown by hour to determine at what times more personnel is needed in assistance positions. These reports include simple to analyze graphics that are useful for decision-making, with statistics showing, among other details, where the incidence of cases is higher. The information is available online in real time, and the Ministers can also receive it on their mobile phones. In turn, this enables the government to have better control of resources.
Currently there's work being done on integrating Geographic Information System (GIS) into to Respond©, which will display the cases by geographic area. The focus of this project is based on citizen-oriented government strategy, reliable governments, best practices of good governance, digital citizenship and smart cities, as well as the principles of transparency, democratic institutions and accountability. All of this allows moving forward on the presidential goal for“less bureaucratic” and more efficient governance.
For their part, citizens are encouraged to express their complaints, claims or suggestions, because they find a better quality of service, a number that identifies the incident that began with their call or contact via web, through which they can do an online follow-up of the case. In addition, calls are now free, so if there was a delay in achieving a more precise answer, it wouldn't mean additional costs for the citizen. Likewise, the call dropout rate is significantly lower than before the 311 was implemented. Other channels being used to inform individuals are social networks such as Facebook and Twitter.
“Our mission is to modernize governance by making access to Panamanian government entities faster, easier and more current. In order to achieve that, we have to respond and resolve every complaint submitted by the citizens with kindness, quality and dedication. With the Centro Nacional de Atención Ciudadana and Rock Solid Technologies and Microsoft technology, we are achieving that, because we can analyze each entity's processes, perform government Business Intelligence, move quality and innovation management forward in governance and plan initiatives for improvement and innovation on a continuous basis,” said the Manager of AIG, Eng. Eduardo E. Jaen.
Microsoft Dynamics CRM
Microsoft Dynamics CRM is the technology solution that allows you to define a business strategy focused on anticipating, meeting and exceeding the current and expected needs and desires of your customers, increasing the effectiveness of sales and service employees. With modules for sales, marketing and customer service, Microsoft Dynamics CRM provides a fast, flexible and affordable solution that drives consistent, measurable improvements in every business process and allows for a closer relationship with your customers that will help your company reach new profitability levels.
For more information about Dynamics CRM, please visit: