From the 211 telephone number that links to community services and information, to the 811 number used for identifying underground public utilities, governments across North America are providing citizens with direct access to assistance for a variety of situations, with 911 handling most emergencies. However, what about non-emergencies where a caller nevertheless needs to get into contact with municipal services? Is it still OK to dial 9-1-1?

Well, no, actually. While most emergency dispatch offices will still be willing to field emergency calls, their time is extremely valuable, and should be focused on handling true emergencies. For non-emergencies, callers should instead dial 3-1-1.

An emergency constitutes any situation where someone might be in immediate danger. Fires, crimes in progress, severe injuries, and industrial accidents all constitute 911-relevant emergencies. Non-emergencies, such as potholes, noise complaints, and requests for graffiti removal, to name only a few, should all be handled through 311.

911 operators are there to facilitate fast solutions, but they aren’t there to connect with citizens. 311 services, on the other hand, are in a unique position to more than simply take some of the burden off of emergency operators. Improved 311 services give citizens the chance to connect.

When a citizen calls a 311 office, they are reaching out to their local government. They are taking an interest, and becoming involved — two factors that local governments would love to see emulated in more of its citizens. That said, by restricting 311 calls to conventional telephone connections, governments may be failing to be accessible to their more digitally connected users. In order to really engage their citizens, government services need to reach out to citizens where they are, and in many cases, that means embracing new digital technologies.

The advent of the information age has led to an increase in the number of communication channels available to citizens. Where once telephone and the occasional letter sent by mail carrier were some of the only feasible communication options open to the average user, modern citizens now have easy and near-universal access to mobile smart devices, social media, email, web browsers, and more. In fact, smartphone usage in the US is projected to hit 264 million by 2021 , and 77% of online adults in the US regularly use social networking sites .

These users expect to be able to connect with their local government agencies through the channels they are most comfortable with. To meet this expectation, governments are beginning to implement a growing number of resources that facilitate improved citizen engagement via digital channels. 311 services are a good place to start.

A 311 app designed to give connected citizens advanced reporting options empowers users to notify their local government of important issues without having to wait to speak to an operator. Simple-to-navigate application menus give them the opportunity to identify relevant issues and submit and check the statuses of their reports. These apps can also be customized to fit the needs of any local government, and tied directly back into the contact centers themselves.

Of course, this is only the beginning. Advanced cloud technology takes things further, by integrating mobile citizen apps with call centers, websites, and social media on a single platform. Relevant data is shared between agents, for a more personalized, seamless citizen experience. Citizens can connect with experts, crowdsource with other users, or access lists of possible solutions. This can all be handled digitally, without needing to deal with any paperwork or complicated processes.

Thanks to these advantages, more and more governments are turning towards cloud-based CRM technology, not only for 311 services, but for many of their citizen-facing responsibilities. Of course, in order to fill those responsibilities effectively, agencies need a CRM platform that they can trust. Salesforce Government Cloud is the answer.

Built on the world’s #1 CRM platform, Salesforce Government Cloud gives agencies the power to connect with their citizens in a way that is data-focused, fully integrated, and absolutely reliable, while still remaining cost effective enough not to upset government budgets.

Government Cloud is customizable to meet the needs of any local government, and is maintained through regular updates. Government Cloud is also fully cloud based, meaning that every tool and function can be accessed by any authorized user via a standard web browser — making it 100% compatible with any device — and that it can be setup within a matter of hours, without any expensive hardware installation.

Government Cloud integrates with the entire Salesforce CRM ecosystem, and puts those capabilities to work in improving the government/citizen relationship.

By incorporating with Salesforce Service Cloud, users can better service individual cases and improve call-center effectiveness. With Community Cloud, agencies across departments and levels of government can more efficiently coordinate their efforts. Marketing Cloud improves citizen outreach, by incorporating various marketing channels and delivering a personalized marketing journey for every citizen. Einstein Analytics keeps track of all relevant data, and delivers actionable insights and highly accurate forecasts. Finally, Apps Cloud gives agencies the ability to create custom, citizen-facing applications, such as the 311 app mentioned above.

Additionally, Government Cloud is perhaps the most widely trusted and compliant CRM option available to governments. Salesforce continues to earn the industry’s top compliance standards, including FedRAMP, DoD IL2 and provisional authorization for IL4, SOC, HIPPA, and others, so no user will ever have to worry about the security of their most sensitive citizen or government data.

Simply put, with Salesforce Government Cloud, the resources to improve citizen engagement are all at your fingertips.

Citizens want to be able to connect with their governments. In fact, research suggests that more than half (55%) of Americans would be open to their taxpayer money going to research forward-looking technologies for their cities, assuming it is for services they would find helpful.
Effective 311 app options help your citizens connect when they have a non-emergency issue that needs to be resolved, but there is more to citizen engagement than reporting potholes. Give your citizens a voice, and empower them to use that voice over the channels they prefer. Try Salesforce Government Cloud today , and see how you can connect with your citizens, for solutions that always engage, no matter what the emergency may be.
Ready to talk more about the capabilities of the Salesforce Platform for Government? We’ll help you set up a strategy to start connecting people and streamlining processes like never before.