Implemented data-driven changes when transitioning its temporary emergency assistance program to electronic systems. This allowed the city to better support residents during the COVID-19 pandemic.
Analyzed call data in order to help prepare the program’s staff to handle incoming calls, shortening response times and increasing positive customer service feedback. The city tracked calling data in order to create a dedicated team designed to help residents.
Launched a centralized service request portal that streamlines customer service for the entire city and ensures a request is routed to the right resources.
Building the Case for Change
Prior to the pandemic, residents had to call CSD to make an appointment and then apply for assistance in person. If they were missing any necessary documentation, they had to make an additional appointment to come back. The application process could stretch for weeks. Durda worked with the program administrator and key staff to revamp CAP’s call center process, starting with an analysis of call data. They discovered that even prior to COVID-19, the program was not staffed appropriately to handle all incoming calls because a performance review had never been done that would have provided data showing a clear resource deficit. With this information in hand, they worked across departments to source and train customer service representatives who had capacity to handle CAP calls.
Durda and Moreno then looked at individual performance data. They discovered that their top performer, in terms of quickly and accurately processing cases, was a long-time temporary employee. Using this performance data, Moreno was able to make the business case for transitioning the employee to full-time regular status. She was also able to address immediate staffing needs for CAP by training three library employees and a court employee who otherwise would have been unable to work during the pandemic.
Process improvements, such as retooling CAP’s workflow to separate intake work from casework, also delivered efficiencies. After Durda discovered CAP’s technology platform offered online application functionality, the entire process was digitized just six weeks after the city offices closed.
Within the first weekend of the CAP application portal going live, 70 new people applied for assistance without requiring an in-person visit. Prior to the pandemic, it would have taken CAP staff four days to complete 70 in-person eligibility appointments. With data showing that some residents may lack personal computers and at-home internet access, the City also installed computer kiosks in lobby areas that were publicly accessible to facilitate online applications, and offered preliminary intake by phone.
As residents’ needs were clearly heightened due to the COVID-19 pandemic, the City was able to meet demand by making staffing and process improvement changes that emerged from a data-driven culture years in the making. As a result, CAP disbursed about 9,500 payments to support utility and rent payments in only two quarters during the 2020–21 fiscal year, compared to about 2,000 the entire previous fiscal year. The program served more than twice as many households in the city during that fiscal year, pushing out around $10 million. That’s more than tenfold the average assistance provided to residents during the previous three fiscal years. Today, Glendale is one of a handful of jurisdictions in Arizona with an online rental and utility assistance application portal. The City is both sharing successes and gathering new ideas to support its data-driven governance efforts through the WWC regional network in Maricopa County.