When I arrived in Albuquerque, it looked like any normal city. From Sunport airport, I turned off the I-25 that cuts right through downtown and I started appreciating the adobe walls and the historical Spanish street names. Yet, I couldn’t shake the feeling something was off. And then suddenly it struck me. There was no graffiti.
This was the first of many pleasant surprises I had during my visit. I could talk for hours about how nice the people are and how awesome the food is. (Fun fact: the official NM state question is “Red or Green?” when ordering your preferred chili with your food). But instead, let’s talk about the customer experience (CX).
The City of Albuquerque takes tremendous pride and ownership in ensuring the best possible experience for their constituents.
Brian Osterloh, Associate CIO at the City of Albuquerque, said that when he collects taxes from the people of Albuquerque, he wants to deliver back a service that’s worthy of the hard work citizens put in to earn that money. It’s refreshing to hear city officials say that providing a great customer experience is important simply because that’s their job.
The City of Albuquerque takes a very technologist mindset when designing their citizen experiences. In fact, Peter Ambs, CIO of the city, proudly mentions that “in 2017 Albuquerque was voted the second most digital city in the U.S. by the Center of Digital Government, right after the city of Los Angeles."
The city has been investing in establishing new lines of communication with the community, a 300Mbs fiber optic internet downtown, smart sensors all over the city, IoT-enabled sprinklers (Albuquerque lies in the Chihuahuan Desert and water is scarce), open data interfaces, and many more capabilities. All these technologies make living in the city more pleasant.
It's not just technology. The city has designed their 311 Contact Center approach around the CX. In the US, 311 is the local number you can dial to contact the city for non-emergency situations. Carrie Prothero, 311 Division Manager, explained how her department is more than just a phone number people can dial. There is a full contact center behind the number, with well-designed processes, highly trained agents, and multiple contact channels. Plus, it’s deeply integrated with various city departments.
Albuquerque is the first city in the world to integrate with Amazon Alexa to make service interactions with the city easier. You can now use Amazon Alexa as a channel to report issues to the 311 Contact Center, like picking up an old sofa or other large items, missed trash-pickups and graffiti removal.
Check out this short video of how Amazon Alexa works in Albuquerque.
Albuquerque recognized that certain segments of their constituents could benefit a lot from this new mode of interaction. For example, the visually impaired or older generations that may not be familiar with apps and mobile phones might find it easier to interact with Alexa.
Often when constituents report new graffiti, whether by phone, email, chat or by talking to Amazon Alexa, it is removed within the hour. It’s a well executed process and the removal team takes pride doing their part in keeping the city devoid of graffiti.
Or as the heavily tattooed graffiti removal team member said: “Dude. This city is clean bro.”
Check out the full video in which the city officials explain their approach to providing great customer experience.
Let us know your thoughts and leave a comment! How does your city approach innovation? What can organizations from other industries learn from Albuquerque?