By: Alyssa Dinberg and Dillon Wood, Cookingham-Noll Management Fellows, Office of the City Manager
When was the last time you checked out Yelp for reviews on the hottest, new restaurants? How about the last time you followed a company on Twitter to get updates on their products? Companies across the nation are working to efficiently produce information about the services they provide to their customers through different means of media. Cities are no different. In the rapid, on-demand society that we now live in, the City of Kansas City, Missouri is continually working to seek innovative and creative ways to connect and communicate with the public.
A few interesting developments emerged in our most recent Customer Service and Communications KCStat meeting. Staff presented findings from the citizen satisfaction survey in regards to the different ways that residents receive information from the city and their satisfaction with the city’s services. These communication efforts include: the city’s website (www.kcmo.gov), the city’s magazine (KCMore), emails sent out by the Communications Division, text messages, Twitter (@KCMO) and social media, and Channel 2, the city’s television station.
By way of the city’s citizen satisfaction survey, we are able to break down the preferred methods by residents for receiving information across the city and by council district.
Overall, the city’s website is the preferred means of receiving information by Kansas Citians for all six council districts. The city’s magazine is the second most preferred method on a citywide basis, with some difference between council districts in their level of preference. As you can see below, 50% of residents citywide said the city’s website is their preferred method for receiving information.
1st and 2nd Preference for Receiving Information, citywide and by council district
In FY2017, 48% of residents were satisfied with the usefulness of the city’s website. One interesting note is that 63% of all citizens surveyed indicated that they had visited the website—an 8% increase from last year.
The top 5 pages on the city’s website that residents are looking at are: 1. Home page, 2. Jobs, 3. Pay Online, 4. Police home page, 5. Municipal Court home page. This data speaks to the power of providing valuable content to residents in order to drive traffic to the website. City officials have recognized that residents view the city’s website as a reliable source of information.
Citizen Satisfaction with the Usefulness of the City Website
While the website remains the preferred communication method for KCMO residents, the City Communications team is consistently looking for innovative ways to reach more residents. An example of this would be an increased collaboration between the City of Kansas City and the private social networking service for neighborhoods, NextDoor. Through this app, the City is able to communicate with almost 50,000 Kansas City residents on anything from curbside limb pickup to an upcoming citywide celebration.
Subscribers based on District:
District 1- 9,901
District 2 – 8,564
District 3 – 2,230
District 4 – 9,906
District 5 – 3,696
District 6 – 14,571
In addition to NextDoor, the City utilizes other forms of social media to engage and inform the community. While not the #1 preferred method of communication, social media engagement is on the rise. Just this year, our Twitter page hit 84,000 followers and is expected to hit 90-95k by 2018. Through tweet-alongs, the City Manager and Mayor are able to engage with residents in personal, informative and interactive ways that build knowledge about specific topics related to the city.
Starting in 2017, we began using Facebook Live as a way to live stream major events to those unable to attend. While still a new form of communication, we have had a tremendous response as shown by the 123,000 people reached during the Mayor’s State of the City Address.
Another new approach to communications is the renamed and expanded text notification system, AlertKC. Over the past year, the City has prioritized the expansion of this program and has seen a 24% increase in subscriptions with more than 18,304 people subscribed. AlertKC provides an efficient and secure way for residents to receive text message and email notifications related to severe weather and other emergencies.
As one can see, the City is actively working to engage with the public through various means of communication. The city’s website continues to be the most popular way citizens receive information. However, we are still actively working with and exploring newer technologies that promote accountability and transparency in KCMO’s government operations and that effectively communicate about city services to residents.