CX - what does it mean? Your Customer Experience - city hall wants to change its culture and begin serving the people who pay the bills.

News 100 redBy Pepper Parr

May 6th, 2021



It was a bold statement that has been some time coming and it will be a few years before the Customer Experience is complete.

The opening statement in the presentation made to Council was that: “We are an empowered team, building lifelong relationships and trust, through outstanding customer service and innovative solutions.

The purpose is to put in place a Customer Relations Management (CRM) service that puts the people who rely on city hall first. For Burlington this is a massive shift – and at this point there is no guarantee that they will be able to pull it off.

They are giving it a lot more than the old college try.

Why even have a plan?
There are too many people who are just not happy with the levels of service. Parks and Recreation is seen as a problem area, Building permits is described as a daily disaster that can’t continue.

City manager Tim  Commisso, along with Executive Director Sheila Jones, have set out to change that with full council support.

The city administration knew that the level of service it had to deliver needed improvement.

The first cut of the customer service plan a number of months ago got a terrible reception – Councillors were not happy with the way the CRM team set up their email service.

Back to the drawing boards – the approach that Council saw Wednesday was a complete culture shift – which included collecting data that would help staff determine where the stress point in terms of communicating were.

They were in reality everywhere.

Angela Morgan got pulled as City Clerk and named as the lead for the CRM change.

Four stars and a heart

Get used to seeing that four star rating delivered with a heart – it is the logo for the Customer experience – now known as CX

There were five workshops in fall of 2020 involving 56 staff.  The drive is to centralize everything with CRM being the engine that does the delivering.
The size of the challenge was set out in five slides that identified where the work had to be done

Create Trust and confidence

Manage change

Enhance digit experience

Report on progress

Operationalize the CRM system

11 timeline

The timeline has CX implemented and working before the 2022 election. The \Mayor sees it as part of the platform that will get her re-elected.

The timeline doesn’t leave a lot of room for mistakes.  Pulling everything together with a timeline driven to some degree by an election is not the smartest approach.  Is the schedule set by the administration or the political needs of a council ?

3 full org look

It is almost as if there is a whole new department that will determine how all the other departments focus on the public and the service delivered to them. A couple of Council members had concerns over the degree of cultural change and the leadership and pressed the city manager to be sure he was fully on side,


Council was told that in order to ensure “that organization-wide, City staff  must clearly understand the CX Program’s role and value and are engaged early on to improve customer-facing initiatives.  If the CX Program is to be a trusted partner and advisor to all City services in the delivery of outstanding customer experiences greater cross-departmental collaboration on providing great CX are going to require a Customer-centric mindset.

These are heady statements – they were delivered with great enthusiasm – they began to sound like political campaign promises – which is what they were.

When fully implemented CRM will involve every nook and cranny of the city.

5 connections

Every nook and cranny of the city administration has been pulled into CRM.

The benefits and impact of the CX (that’s Customer Experience) will be an increase in the knowledge and application of CX practices across the City.  CX Program initiatives are viewed as opportunities for the organization and key stakeholders to feel comfortable, confident and committed. Leading practices for effective change management will lead to a structured approach to change, including individual change journeys•

The plan will be to communicate early, well and often through multiple channels with excitement and anticipation for CRM System implementation being evident everywhere.

Heady stuff indeed.

Digital CX is easy, simple, intuitive and accessible.  The CX Program will advocate for digital transformation and partner with Corporate Communications, IT Services and other stakeholders to provide outstanding digital services for the customer, including a modern City website that delivers outstanding digital CX

The ability to collect data and use that data to determine just what it is the public wants could and should lead to better servicd.

Council saw some data that supported that view

6 usage data

What do people want to know?  Mayor Meed Ward was surprised at the number of people who wanted to know more about their taxes.

9 request by type

City staff had to learn just what it was the pubic wants when they call city hall.  The graph set out below answers that question.  Information first and then service.

8 calls blue info grn serv

7 telephone


More to come on this story.


Return to the Front page
Print Friendly, PDF & Email

4 comments to CX – what does it mean? Your Customer Experience – city hall wants to change its culture and begin serving the people who pay the bills.

  • Denise W.

    Fancy, vacuous, graphs and pie charts with word salads on them, do nothing. Is this about hiring people to do what current staff should already be doing? Isn’t that ignoring the real problem by covering it up with something to address the symptoms? In stead of CRM staff, just put the money where it is needed and make sure current staff is sufficient, productive and responsive to what the customer wants and needs. Run it like a business that relies on customers, rather than a branch of government that can collect taxes, no matter what they do.

    I see on one chart….”CX Center of Excellence” C of E’s (not a new term by any stretch) have been/are used at the federal level (also to improve the customer experience) and viewed by myself anyway, as an amalgamation of services with the principle idea to save money.

    To me, this has hallmarks of people, hiring a layer of other people, to do their job. In a few years time Layer 2 will want a Layer 3 to do Layer 2’s job of which is making Layer 1’s team look good. Government bureaucracy never gets smaller or reigned in, only larger. Not a step forward in my view.

    Is there some website for government people to go to and get the latest charts, buzzwords and word salads? These things could be used anywhere for any company. Would love to know who made this plan and what it cost. And I do note in one graphic something about requesting operating budget, at the end of the process????

    Before hanging that Co of E moniker on the new plan/office, wait a year, and let the citizens name this operation. If C of E is undeserved, I’m sure the good people of Burlington can make some suggestions.

  • Fred Crockett

    I’m not sure what I’m missing here.

    If a citizen calls or e-mails a Councillor or a member of staff, just answer the question or refer it to an appropriate source. Document the statistics however you wish, but deal with the issue at hand.

    The enquiring citizen may be a crank, or may be confused, or may have a very valid point – just deal with it, without inventing tiers and tiers of bureaucracy.

  • Blair Smith

    Three brief points. First, kudos to Council for undertaking this “C” change and for recognizing the fundamental importance of CRM to an effective and ‘honest’ client service perspective. Second, I am a little concerned by the use of “buzz words” in the description above – particularly since they are rather old (“individual change journeys”) and tired at this point. Is there true commitment or just consultant verbiage? Finally, why can’t organizations, such as COB, borrow from existing best practices recognizing that there will be specific points of difference and departure. Even better, isn’t CRM something that would be better addressed at the Regional level? Why do we continually “roll our own” in each municipality rather than developing breadth of scope and deeper resource expertise by developing common systems and infrastructure?

  • Phillip Wooster

    Lots of fancy graphics and I’m sure this looks impressive to the bureaucracy, including the mayor and councillors, at city hall. How hard is it to put taxpayers first? It’s impossible because for all their nice rhetoric, city hall is run by a group of people who believe they alone have all the answers and taxpayers are here to do their bidding. To change the culture, a massive overhaul of personnel, both politicians and bureaucrats, is needed—and how likely is that?