How it Works - Constituent Communications Management Solution
Outcomes and Solution Overview for Legislators and Legislative Staff
SUMMARY OF CURRENT FINDINGS FROM BUSINESS REQUIREMENTS ENGAGEMENTS
Affiliated worked with a number of legislative bodies to understand their current environments and to gather the business requirements necessary to successfully implement a Constituent Communications Management Solution (CCMS).
Many of the organizations used individual solutions to service, track, and support their constituents. Solutions ranged from nothing, to spiral notebooks, to excel spreadsheets, to custom solutions that provided some, but nowhere near all of the needs of today’s requirements. Affiliated has successfully developed a custom Constituent Management Solution (CCMS) for state General Assemblies and is familiar with the nuances required to support state legislators and their staffs.
The following information is a generalized summary of the findings from our engagements and a quick visualization of how the solution will function for a General Assembly or individual branches of the legislature.
WHAT WILL BE ACHIEVED BY IMPLEMENTING A CONSTITUENT MANAGEMENT SYSTEM
The General Assembly is tasked with serving the needs of respective Legislator/Members and the Constituents within those districts. There is presently a lack of consistent strategies or tools to efficiently serve the needs of the General Assembly and the districts of which they serve.
Affiliated has developed a solution that will address the collective and individual needs of the following groups:
- Legislative Support Staff
This document describes the desired outcomes each of these groups can achieve using the CCMS solution.
When corresponding and/or meeting with Legislators/Members, Constituents will find that their concerns have been quickly received/heard. The constituent will know that their Legislator/Member is on top of their concern or interest – even when meeting in person since their Legislator/Member has access to up to the minute information from their mobile device.
Mike Moran is a Constituent in District X. He has corresponded particular interests in both Senate Bill #1 and funding for education. Because all of Mike Moran’s mail, email and telephone correspondence has been categorized and “tagged” (using: “Senate Bill #1”, “education funding”), it is possible to continually update Mike on progress made on both fronts.
When Mike encounters his Legislator/Member in a meeting (whether scheduled or by pure chance), he can receive a real-time update and progress report from his legislator. As progress continues, Mike receives steady updates (via email or letters – based on his preference) – again on all of his interests.
Mike’s reaction: “My Legislator/Member is on top of things. I get continually updated on progress made on the issues I am most passionate about. It’s impressive.”
Superior ability to serve the Constituents’ needs is priority #1. This means Legislators/Members will hear what their Constituents are saying and acknowledge their concerns and desires. Now it will be possible to: access records of any Constituent that has corresponded with the Legislator/Member, understand the issues that are of importance to that Constituent and be able to explain up to the minute progress on those issues – from a cell phone or other mobile device. The act of promising to “get back to you” (when online updates exist) can go away.
When he meets with his Legislator/Member and a member of the Department of Transportation, Mike Moran knows that his requests for assistance are being addressed. His Legislator/Member seems to have a profile of his issues and a genuine interest – without having to ask their aide for the latest updates.
His Legislator/Member says “I have to interact with hundreds of people in my District on a monthly basis. I can’t remember the details of every Constituent’s interests, nor should I have to. Now I can be assured that I have the latest up-to-date information on my Constituents’ interests and progress being made for them. This creates a much more satisfied Constituent.”
When statistics related to Bills and Constituent concerns are tracked and organized within CCMS it becomes possible to measure the importance and/or popularity on a large scale. 15 people expressing concern about educational funding in one District may not be as important as knowing there are thousands of other Constituents expressing similar opinions across the state.
Categorized and tagged communications that are continually logged as individual Constituent correspondence arrives will create an electronic source of information that has not been available before. Additionally, it will be possible to easily manage and reduce the heavy labor burden caused by special interest group bulk email campaigns.
It will now be possible to understand just how much reaction Senate Bill #1 is generating. It will also be possible to quickly correspond to the list of people who have previously expressed an opinion related to the progress of the same bill – using automation, versus manual efforts.
LEGISLATIVE STAFF SUPPORT
Where there previously was a lack of consistent processes and tools for managing communications, now there is a documented strategy. There is no more reliance upon individual staff member creativities and memories. Having communications organized and accessible in a central location minimizes difficulties associated with the absence of any staff member. Replacing a staff member is simpler. Training new hires on how to be effective at supporting the Legislator/Member takes less time and is provided in a formalized, computer based training approach with validation of class activities and completion. Loss of key information associated with a change in staff is minimized.
Additionally, with the ability to categorize and tag correspondence by Constituent, it becomes possible to research key issues, bills and concerns. This facilitates the ability to keep the Constituent informed while also alerting the Legislator/Member of developing trends in and across District(s).
27 Constituents either phoned, mailed or emailed Ms. Legislator notifying her of their desire to have a baseball park built in their neighborhood in the last week. Ms. Legislator is scheduled to conduct a Town Hall meeting in that exact neighborhood next week. Prior to the meeting, each Constituent receives an individual correspondence acknowledging the receipt of the letter/email/phone call and a promise to include that as one of the topics to be discussed in next week’s Town Hall meeting.
This enables Ms. Legislator to prepare in advance, rather than being surprised at the meeting.
The system provides leadership with visibility into the support activities occurring in each office in order to provide the proper level of support, additional assistance, guidance and training to ensure Legislator/Member’s offices are operating at top performance.
Legislator X’s staff member resigned their position and a new staff member was assigned to the legislator. After providing the administrative training, the new staff member went through the CCMS computer training and was certified. As leadership support team members work with the new staff to acclimate them to their new role, leadership was able to provide coaching and guidance by viewing the dashboards on activities and to-do lists for the new employee’s district activities.
This helps facilitate a smooth transition for the new staff member and Legislator X.
SUMMARY EXAMPLES OF HOW THE SOLUTION WILL HELP A LEGISLATOR
Let’s start with a legislator reviewing their email in outlook. Mike Moran, is contacting you via an email about an issue with a sign on a local highway.
With two clicks, you can track this email which will add this email into the CCMS system so your staff can see this email.
You could also forward this to the district mailbox and your legislative aide could process the message.
You then open your calendar for the week to check your appointments and see you have an appointment scheduled for Thursday afternoon to meet with Mike Moran and with an Agent at the Department of Transportation (ODOT) to see what can be done to accommodate Mike’s sign issue request. (Your legislative aide created the appointment and added it to your calendar.)
To make sure you are prepared for the meeting, you can click on the Regarding line under the appointment detail.
See the actual detail and all of the information for the case that has been initiated for constituent Moran’s issue. All of the activities already completed or scheduled are available from one screen.
On Tuesday evening, you have a scheduled town hall meeting in Dublin and Mike Moran introduces himself to you. He asks about the progress on his sign approval case. Instead of writing down his contact information on a piece of paper, you can open up your mobile phone and look up his case. You can give him a full accounting of what is happening on his case. You can see the actions you and your staff have taken. You can review all communication about this case. You can see when and who has the case at the moment. This means that you can tell Mike that you will see him on Thursday at the ODOT offices.
The next day, you are in the office and you would like to know more about the issues within your district. You open Outlook and click on the CCMS Dashboards. From here you choose the District Dashboard. This dashboard will show you several important items like the number of cases by type or the number of opinions shared on topics (Tag count by position). You zero in on the fact that there are over 40 cases listed where someone has a problem. You want to know more about what these items are and the status of the issues. You click on a graph icon to open the details.
A new screen appears and you can click on the graph lines and the detailed information is filtered on the screen for you. You notice that one of the cases is the one with Mike Moran who you talked with last night.
From here you can open each of the cases and review them, make comments that your legislative aides can work on, make phone calls, send emails, or schedule appointments.
You now have visibility into your district’s activities and understand the status of the items that affect your district in a familiar, easy to use format that can be accessed at your desk, on your tablet, and via your mobile phone.
Understanding, servicing, and interacting with constituents is a top priority. Keeping the Legislator/ Member and their district organized and ready to support your constituent interactions effectively is the advantage that the Affiliated CCMS will provide to the General Assembly.
SUMMARY EXAMPLES OF HOW CCMS WILL HELP THE LEGISLATIVE STAFF
As a legislative assistant or staff member, understanding your legislator/members needs and working with constituents are your top priorities. The CCMS solution will help your team stay on top of all of the activities you perform and will provide you guidance on priorities and visibility into trends and opportunities that can help your legislator/member understand their constituents and the sentiments of their district. Here are some examples of how the CCMS can help the Legislative staff.
You are a Legislative Aide/staff resource and you just started your day. You open your CCMS from your Outlook screen navigation and go to your active cases screen to review all of the open issues that you are currently working on. You can see from this screen not only the cases, but when you requested a reminder that the case is still open. You see the Constituents and a brief description of each open case.
As you are reviewing your case log, and you see you need to confirm a meeting. You click on the phone call button under the Add menu as you are dialing the number. The phone call screen appears and you enter the call information and attach it to Mike’s open case. This way you have captured the call activity in the case so you and your member can review as needed.
As you are talking with Mike, you want to know more about him. You click on the contact link and open his record. From here, you can see all of the information that the district has captured on Mike. You have his address, email, phone fields. You can review all activities that have been made with Mike. You can even view a summary of the tags from all of the emails and cases under the stance section. From the example on this screen you see he is Pro-Gun and Con Issue 5.
Now that you are done with Mike’s phone call. You open the District Mailbox in CCMS to check if there are any new emails that need attention.
You click on the first email from Peter Burrows. The screen fills in with a green box on the right letting you know that Peter is already in the system. You can click on the stance icon to see his summarized tags. You can click on the association button to see if he belongs to any associations. After reviewing his stances and associations, you then look at the emails that have recently been received or sent. You determine this is a new case, since there are no cases attached to Peter, you click on the plus sign on cases to add case from this email. You also search the tags and assign the appropriate tags to this email. After creating the case, you click on the reply button at the bottom and choose a standard template to email mail back a response. Once you are done, this email is moved to the completed queue, leaving only the emails that need attention in your district queue.
You now move to the next email, Carol Kilway. Once you click on Carol, you notice that the green box is now red, letting you know that Carol is not in the system. The system has already read the physical address from the email and looked up the Senate and House districts. The system compared your district with the one found and determined that this constituent is not in your district. By clicking on the Contact is not in your District box, the system will allow you to move this email to the correct district mail box and keep a copy in the system for records requests.
As you work on your district mailbox, several emails with the same subject come in. Taking a quick look at the email shows you that this is a list server or a bulk email job setup by a lobbyist organization. You decide to take care of this right away before your mailbox gets filled up with these emails.
You click on one of the emails with the subject “Minimum Wage Reform” and then select the tags to assign to each email that comes in today with this subject. Then you click on the Bulk Email button.
The Bulk Email screen now appears and lets you decide how you want to respond to these emails today. You choose a standard response template and click Create Bulk Email Job. The screen closes and now all of the emails that you receive today with this subject will automatically be filtered out of your district mailbox, allowing you to see the emails that need attention. You know that tonight at 6:00PM the bulk email job will run and take care of all of the bulk emails received today.
Your member calls you and asks you if the outreach newsletters for Senate Bill 3 was sent out. The member also wants to know who read it and if Mike Moran read it since it pertains to his open case. You navigate to the sent emails section and open the Senate Bill 3 Outreach email sent. From here you can collect the information for your member on who opened the email and who did not. You can see that Mike did receive and open the email. You contact your member and inform him on the results.
You decide to be proactive and see if Mike Moran has received any other newsletters. You open his constituent record and then navigate to the emails sent. You can now see that he has received only the Senate Bill 3 Outreach email. This screen will show you delivery/read/action history detail for all emails sends sent to Mike Moran – or any constituent
At the end of the day, knowing that keeping on top of what is happening in your district is crucial, you decide to open the District Dashboard to see what is happening in the district from an activity standpoint. Focusing in on the Activity by type, you notice that there have been quite a few phone calls. Yet, you do not remember what they were all about.
To refresh your memory, you click on the details button on the chart to open a drill down window. From this screen you can click on any portion of the chart and the list will change to the detail composing that portion of the chart. You click on phone calls and you see one of them was the call earlier with Steve Jennings. You can click on the phone call and open the record to review.
At the end of the day, you realize that there are some additional features that you would like to better understand to be more effective with the CCMS system. You access the training modules and select the district mailbox training session; then watch the tailored Computer Based Training module to guide you through the steps needed to accomplish your desired tasks.
At the end of the training, the system prompts you for a verification that you grasped the information needed to take advantage of the activities.
See how the CCMS solution works for Legislators and their staff members.For more information or to request a demonstration of the Affiliated Constituent Communication Management Solution, click here or call 800.626.3223.