It’s #ELGLHaverford time! We’re pleased to recognize the top 25 local government companies as nominated by ELGL members. Learn more about the Haverford Award, and then check out our website every day this week to learn about five new companies added to the 2020 Haverford Award list.
- Industry sector(s): Technology
- Minority/Woman Owned Business: No
- Shared content/expertise with ELGL: Yes
- Participated in ELGL events/activities: Yes
Describe your work and interactions with the nominee – how have you worked with them, on what projects, and in what capacity?
- The City of Arlington launched Citibot, an interactive text messaging tool that provides a new way for residents to report issues in the community, such as potholes or stray animals, or find information about city services and events, such as permits, public meetings or trash and recycling pick up dates.
With Citibot, residents and visitors throughout Arlington can text a short question, such as “How do I get a pet license?,” and an interactive chatbot will reply with a relevant link to information available on the City’s website. Users can also text key words, such as recycling pickup or street light, to report an issue by street address. When the City fixes the reported issue, Citibot will follow up to let the person know their query has been resolved.
Arlington is the second city in Texas – and the largest – to implement Citibot. The City will test the service’s functionality and how residents use and embrace the technology as part of a one-year pilot program funded by the Arlington Tomorrow Foundation.
Now, the same chatbot technology is being added to the City’s homepage, ArlingtonTX.gov. Users will soon notice the web chat feature on the bottom right section of the homepage on both desktop and mobile devices. Clicking the icon launches Citibot’s chat window, prompting residents to enter their questions. From there, the technology service gets to work, delivering answers in just seconds.
What was the product/outcome of your relationship with the company?
- As an Office of Communication, we’re always looking for ways to put technology to work and offer our residents easier ways to report and resolve issues in their neighborhoods. With Citibot, one text is all it takes to streamline the reporting process for residents. This product has undoubtedly helped streamline the reporting process for our residents, allowing them to make Arlington a better place to live.
Working with Bratton Riley and his team at Citibot has been an incredible experience, when it comes to both product implementation and customer service. They are always looking for ways to make the product better and improve the conversations we’re having with our residents. We know the COVID-19 pandemic has increased uncertainty for everyone and our organization wants to do our part to remain consistent by continuing to offer the quality services our residents have come to expect. Citibot has been one of many integral tools to make sure we can do that for our residents.
What are three words you’d use to describe the company?
- innovative, open-minded, genuine
Describe the on-boarding process for your work with the company – either when you personally started working with them, or when your organization did. What could someone else in local government know about starting work with this company?
- The on-boarding process was seamless and the implementation with our Action Center staff and software couldn’t have been better. They are easy to work with, flexible with new ideas and a very solutions oriented group. You don’t get bogged down in the weeds and they know how to separate the marketing conversation from the technical dialogue that needs to take place with the proper departments.
Making the reporting process easier for residents to resolve issues is a goal of literally every local government agency in the country. Does Citibot help your organization improve that process? It certainly has for our team at the City of Arlington, TX. That’s the end goal and they’ve worked with his every step of the way to quickly resolve any errors/glitches and to lend a helping hand during the COVID-19 pandemic.
What’s the most interesting or fun aspect of your work with the company?
- Bratton Riley and his team, which includes Alex Cottingham (the company’s marketing director) have always been solution-oriented in their thinking and dialogue. They always make sure meetings fun/engaging and the team is very good at keeping things positive and tackling serious issues in a way that doesn’t feel overwhelming.
I’m not sure I’ve ever developed this kind of rapport with one of our vendors. They are equally as good and decent as human beings as they are exemplary at what they do with Citibot. To say this has been a fun working relationship would be a huge understatement. They took the time to get to know us as people, helping us better function together on the overall projects and goals we have in place with their software and technology.
What is the company’s pricing structure? Please be as descriptive as possible.
- COA Department of Communications – Citibot Pilot Program
To enhance engagement between the City of Arlington and its citizens, Citibot — an interactive text messaging platform which enables residents to ask questions and get instant answers – was launched with the support of the Foundation’s grant.
The program is designed to ensure residents have full access to City services for addressing resident’s concerns. The platform will be offered in several languages and provides the ability for residents to communicate with the City with easily accessible technology.
How has your relationship with the company evolved or changed over time? How has the company reacted to or addressed any changes that your organization has requested in the scope/focus of your work together?
- Our relationship with Citibot has only improved and become stronger as we continue to work with Bratton Riley and his team. Citibot has been an innovative tool for reporting and resolving neighborhood issues and Bratton’s staff is always reaching out to us about timely topics and ways the product can be marketed and utilized by our residents. This includes a new text messaging tool they implemented with us to send out updates and messaging related to COVID-19.
This was offered free of charge for the first few months. The new chat box feature will be unveiled soon (mentioned above) on the City’s website, marking yet another feature the company continues to roll out and offer to its customers. The scope/focus of our work together has remained consistent, despite our staff taking on more work related to the pandemic and making sure we’re communicating key information and news updates with the community. Citibot is there to make our jobs easier, not tack on more work and responsibilities. I’m impressed with that mindset from their team and it’s been in place since day one.
Anything else to add about the company that we haven’t already asked you?
- I just want to stress again what a joy it’s been to work with Citibot and the ways we continue to make it easier for our residents to report issues in our community. Bratton Riley, Alex Cottingham, Rob Royson and many others have been incredible to work with on the implementation of this technology and their innovative and positive-thinking has made an impact on me both personally and professionally.
You never truly know what you’re getting into when you start with a vendor in City government. This group was there to help and the desire to make communities across the country a better place could not be more genuine. Huge thumbs up from me and our team here at the City of Arlington’s Office of Communication here in Texas!