Citizens’ Packet of Silesian Voivode
We have launched the Citizens’ Packet to make Silesian Voivodeship Office (SVO) a more friendly and serviceable place for users. The core of the packet consists of practical facilitations for our clients who seek information or help. Our client-oriented solutions comprise diverse solutions on every level of our customer care and spread to every organisational unit in the SVO.
The Citizens’ Packet is available online via our brand-new official website.
Our clients had serious difficulties to access services of SVO. We provide general scope of governmental services on regional level so it is easy to get lost. In many cases, citizens were required to be physically present in SVO to push forward their case.
The Citizens Packet has been created to remedy all these difficulties. We did much to facilitate citizens' contact with the office. Some cases you can arrange electronically, because there is a chat channel where you can obtain all valid information online – and you are chatting with real civil servants, not with bots. Plenty of information, with forms-to-fill-in and advance contact channels (social media including) are easily accessible via our brand new website: katowice.uw.gov.pl. The website has versions for people with various visual or hearing disabilities.
Nevertheless, if you decide to or it is indispensable to visit our office, you will not be disoriented. We have invested in plenty of information boards, direction arrows and general information leaflets. If they provide you with not entirely satisfactory information, you can always refer to the information desk occupied by helpful staff. As many people work from Monday to Friday and cannot get their new passports in these days, we created “passport Saturdays” – you can visit our office on Saturday and ask for your passport. In addition, new passport service points have been opened to make it easier to apply for this document.
The office headquarters is a historical building and as such is not ideal for people with disabilities. So we provided a customer’s assistant whose job is to help people with disabilities in every respect and to see a client has access to all rooms in the building. All official notes and forms can be obtained in the Braille system. People with disabilities and pregnant women have a priority in all the services offered by SVO.
Until now SVO was not a digital public administration in Poland. To change that, we introduced payment of administrative charges by debit or credit card. While waiting to be attended to, our customers can use a free Wi-Fi hotspot. It is not only possible to make a passport photo on the spot but one is allowed to get some electronic copies of the photo for free. If a person collapses in SVO, he or she may count on a special emergency unit sponsored by SVO which will come to rescue in no time.
If our client comes to SVO with children there is nothing to worry about. The children will surely be delighted with the opportunity to have fun in the children’s room full of toys and books and drawing accessories. They may choose to watch fairy tales and children’s music on TV. Meanwhile the adults have the opportunity to watch live informational channel on an alternative TV set in the main customer service room. If your child is still a baby you can take advantage of a special baby change spot.
Everyone knows how annoying is to pay a visit to an office with no effect because your document is not ready yet or you are required to perform additional duties. To cut such absurdities, we introduced a special SMS notification to inform our client that his or her case is concluded and s/he can arrive to SVO and be sure to obtain the documentation s/he has applied for.
The customers have access to more specialised services. A free-of-charge legal advice for people in difficult life situations is provided, as well as general information on social security and pension system is easy to access on weekly basis.
The above mentioned amendments are from different scopes of SVO activity and are directed to various people groups. But all of them are client-oriented and aim to facilitate our customers, contact with the office and provide that they are satisfied with the quality service they have received. The whole project was the launch by the Silesian Voivode in 2016. We are perfectly aware we have not make a break-through in public service and our improvements have similar ones in other public administration offices. But we do believe the overall impact of those so many small improvements creates a significant change for our client and they really appreciate it. As the proverb goes: even the longest journey starts with the very first step.
What Makes Your Project Innovative?
Every single piece of the packet is nothing new or innovative, but their combination is. We provide our clients with complete, full coverage, but at the same time, unobtrusive, help. No reasonable action is refused if it accounts for the customer satisfaction. In Polish governmental administration you cannot expect to settle your business remotely. Usually a few personal visits in the office are necessary. But in SVO, some businesses can be completed only through internet channels. Other cases cannot be completely virtually-handled, but we make sure you pay us only one or two visits and the whole set of documents and arrangements is waiting for you. You can bring your dog, cat, or arrive with your whole family – in all instances you and your companions are welcomed and we take good care of you.
Innovation Status Text
Our Silesian Voivode Packet is fully implemented. It has been operational for almost three years and we are collecting feedback information all the time. A helpful tool for us is the customer satisfaction survey. We made many improvements based on our clients' responses and remarks and on day-to-day observations of our staff. The cornerstone of the innovation is therefore the idea of constant improvement.
Collaborations & Partnerships
We invited co-operation with public institutions. The reason for this was to provide our customers with complementary aid and to facilitate processes which overlap between SVO and other public administration units. Therefore we included into our innovation The Polish Social Insurance Institution and Polish self-government administration units from the whole Silesian Voivodeship (uppermost administrative district).
Users, Stakeholders & Beneficiaries
Our first and predominant users and beneficiaries are the Polish citizens who want (and sometimes have) to use our services. The whole project is citizen-centred. We took pains that our clients were not fined with any additional charges or fees in connection with the project. When we mention citizens we mean not only natural persons trying to settle their administrative issues. The notion comprises a foreigners seeking for permission to stay and work in Poland, small entrepreneurs and others.
Results, Outcomes & Impacts
The aim of the innovation was to enhance customer satisfaction. This goal, we are reasonably convinced, was achieved. The clients are happy about service improvements and added remote tools for contact with SVO. We can measure the level of this client satisfaction growth by a dedicated customer questionnaire and doing some statistics on to what extend the new service opportunities (chat, website, electronic payment) are used. The scope of feedback is gathered on the spot – via direct daily contacts our staff with clients. Our employees collect customers opinions and remarks. The information from these different sources is aggregated, refined and used to make further improvement. We plan to expand all the fields of internet services and to diminish the flow of paper documentation.
Challenges and Failures
We have also encountered many impediments. First was the attitude of our staff. Some civil servants still prefer “old ways” of doing administrative business and prefer our clients to be humble and unassertive. Changing their attitude and awareness was and still is the greatest challenge as the project progresses. Not so predictable was the similar mind-set of some of our customers. Those clients were accustomed to being treated with a sense of superiority by civil servants and when that had changed, they were a bit suspicious. It took some time to convince them that the change is real and permanent. Due to the fact that we projected only small, precise changes which required really modest investment or no money was needed at all, we encountered no serious failures. One may say that the failure was we refrained from not taking into account bigger and more expensive changes but the SVO budget restraints are impassable.
Conditions for Success
First of all, the change has to stem from, or at least be strongly supported by, the highest management. Only if this condition is fulfilled the whole staff takes the change into the core of their business and treats it seriously. The second condition is to properly assess the organisation's human and material assets and to compare them to the projected task – you have to be reasonably ensure the change has any chance to be implemented successfully.
Once you have started your improvement you should persevere. There have to be some (on the surface) impassable obstacles, unexpected situations and for some time it appears that the change does not change anything. But with time, the impediments are subdued and people start to feel the difference and become more and more engaged.
Due to the nature of the innovation, it hasn't been replicated.
We have learned how complicated it is to implement such a big change in reality, even in such a microcosm as our office. It is not easy to satisfy users’ needs because the clients are so different. You have to be prepared to invent multi-choice solutions as your users expect different things for you and sometimes their wishes contradict each other. What a person perceives as a facilitation for another person presents an obstacle and danger to her or his habits. You must project in advance really separable service processes to satisfy various groups of customers. Moreover, sometimes all the staff thinks that a particular solution is superb and that it will surely be loved by the users. But in reality, people do not appreciate your treasured solution and prefer something completely different. So to listen to your users and follow their advice cannot be a lip-service but something you put into practice and make your daily routine.