Palm Coast - 2020 was an ambitious year for the Customer Service team and newly created Customer Engagement team. There were many new technical ventures to test out using the Salesforce platform which hosts Palm Coast Connect - all with the goal of creating new efficiencies and greater accountability for residents. It also became a helpful tool in the response to COVID-19.

During the spring, Palm Coast Connect was the central, single source of information from the city to residents regarding response and helpful information relating to the pandemic. Residents were able to ask questions, research timely updates and request masks through the platform. They also donated through the Feed Palm Coast initiative, providing food to neighbors in need.

Overall in 2020, 8,402 people signed up for a Palm Coast Connect account, bringing the total to 12,661. The team answered and closed 31,799 cases submitted by residents, many of which were queries on sewer, water or billing.

Additionally, the division transitioned from a traditional call center, of answering a call and creating a work order, to a customer engagement center. This means reps now communicate with resident throughout the entire process to ensure their concern or issue is answered and completed. A survey is generated after each case is resolved, allowing Palm Coast Connect users to rate their experience. This gives management helpful insight in how to continuously improve the service to citizens. Still, the team is answering calls for things like flooding, swales and wastewater issues and making sure they are taken care of. In fact, this past year, customer service representatives answered 119,937 calls, a 4.21 percent increase over 2019.

After hour calls increased during 2020's rainy season, including the days when Tropical Storm Isaiah impacted the area. Customer Service also answered more than 600 calls during the rollout of the Utility Assistance Program last summer, funded by a CARES Act grant through the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development.

The team worked closely with Waste Pro in 2020 to increase communication, making sure expected service is provided to residents.

The Customer Engagement team worked with the City Clerk's office to improve the public records request process. Staff will now input public records by submitting a case through Palm Coast Connect. As the case is generated, the City Clerk's office will email out to the designated departments to provide the requested information. Once received, a notification will be sent over to Customer Service to contact requestor for payment. After funds are collected, the case will be put back into the City Clerk's que and their staff will directly email the documentation to the requestor. By streamlining the process, it will eliminate additional work hours and utilize staff more efficiently.

During the month of August, the Utility Department staff worked with AquaVitas, a consultant that analyzes water samples, to set up locations and equipment to have their experts test wastewater samples from six different areas within the city. These samples were taken for once a week for 12 weeks. The samples identify possible concentrations of viral compounds for SARS-CoV-2. Then, the Customer Engagement team used that data along with data from the Flagler County Health Department to build a custom overlay map in Salesforce for possible COVID-19 hotspots. This allowed the health department to identify areas for mobile testing.

The City of Palm Coast's Utility Department was recognized by the South East Desalting Association. Water Treatment Plant #2 was presented with the 2020 Outstanding Membrane Plant Award for outstanding plant operations, maintenance, and exemplary membrane treatment plant performance.

The Utility Department continues to work with one of its consulting engineer firms to complete the design and permitting for the expansion of the city's wastewater treatment capacity. This expansion will happen at the city's Wastewater Treatment Facility #2. The project is currently on schedule with construction to begin towards the end of 2021.

The city utility received grant funding from the Florida Department of Emergency Management that provided for the purchase and installation of 35 generators which provide on-site backup power for pump stations that are located throughout many areas of Palm Coast. These generators provide an extremely important service when there is a loss of power in our area helping to prevent sewer spills.

For the new year, in 2021 the Customer Engagement team is working with parks maintenance and stormwater teams to design what's called 'field service lightning' in Salesforce, which allows for electronic work orders versus paper forms. This will allow the supervisors to track data and be able to see dashboards on demand. Stormwater crews will also be able to use mapping features to check what areas need work going forward

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