About Vineyard City
With more than 17,000 residents, Vineyard is a city in northern Utah County that’s growing quickly. It is one of the fastest growing cities in the Utah metropolitan area covering Salt Lake City to Provo, also known as Silicon Slopes.
A customer since 2021, Vineyard uses Podium to more easily connect with residents and businesses and consolidate all communications across numerous channels into a single inbox. The city is striving to create an engaged community and an excellent resident experience, and Podium is helping them do just that. Bethany Bee, the Social Media Coordinator for the city of Vineyard, explained, “We want an engaged community. This is why Podium helps. Before, it felt like we would push a lot of information out and we didn’t know if people were really listening. But with Podium, the biggest thing we see is community engagement and if our messages are landing.”
Kathryn Newman, the Communications Manager and assistant to the mayor, said, “A big message that we push to our employees is to give our residents the best customer service.” For many new homeowners, students at the local university, or other residents moving in for just a short time, interacting with a city is a new experience. “They’ve never had to interact with a city before and we’re just here to help them with whatever they need from the city,” said Kathryn.
Vineyard uses Podium Webchat to field more questions from residents in less time, Podium Payments to process payments for permits, business licensing, tickets to community events, and vendor payments, and texting to organize community events and communicate with vendors–even the sheriff’s office answers residents’ questions through text. “I think that two-way conversation just helps that community aspect. We want to feel very friendly, almost neighborly, like they can contact us with questions. And I think that helps, being able to text back and forth,” said Bethany Bee.
Before Podium, it was a challenge for the city of Vineyard to connect residents with the right city employees. Managing resident requests and questions was difficult internally with too many communication platforms and opportunities for human error. Plus, the process for collecting payments was manual and outdated—running credit cards at employee desks and waiting for checks in the mail. Altogether, Vineyard struggled with issues such as:
- Communicating with city employees was difficult for residents. When residents had questions that needed quick answers, the process to get connected with a city employee was frustrating and it took too long. The city website had a variety of different phone numbers and contact information, making it difficult for residents to find the right department or individual. Some residents resorted to tagging the mayor in Facebook posts with questions. “Residents were going to our Facebook group, tagging the mayor, and asking for direct answers to questions they could so easily come to staff for instead,” said Kathryn.
- Managing and responding to resident requests was cumbersome and time consuming. With a wide variety of communication platforms, it was becoming more difficult for the city to manage even simple communications with residents. Too often, a question would come in through a Facebook message and the city employee managing that inbox would need to text another employee in a different department or walk to another building to get the answer. Then they would have to go back to the resident’s question in the original Facebook message. “I would have to copy and paste information from 14 different messaging platforms. It felt like 500 steps to answer a question that I didn’t know [the answer to].” said Bethany Bee.
- Collecting payments from residents and businesses was inconvenient and outdated. Before Podium, Vineyard was collecting payments through invoices or in-person transactions at the city offices. The in-person payments were run on an outdated system that didn’t offer the convenience or security of a card reader. “I wouldn’t want to hand someone my credit card. The way we accepted payments before wasn’t the way people are used to,” said Kathryn. Residents paying in person would have to write a check or hand over their credit card. City employees would then take the credit card back to their desk to run the transaction. The whole process felt outdated and unsecure.
The Podium Solution
With Podium, the city of Vineyard was able to streamline communication with residents, employees, and businesses while also modernizing the payment experience. Texting, card readers, and payment links have made working with the city easy and convenient. More specifically, Vineyard uses Podium to deliver:
- A better way to connect with residents—through text
With Podium, Vineyard improved the resident experience with the added convenience of communicating through text. Now, residents can connect directly to city employees that can answer their questions as new conversations are assigned to the right expert. “We have a person from each team that is communicating with residents,” said Bethany Bee. “We have about 10 people that we are regularly farming out messages to internally.”
Texting has made it simple for residents and city employees to connect—without the added frustration of downloading another app or managing a new platform. “People are texters. They don’t want to make a phone call and sit through a menu. The text box is where they want to go and get an answer to their question,” said Kathryn. “Podium enables us to meet residents where they are and respond to them through their phones.”
- A more convenient experience for employees and residents
Podium greatly simplified the internal communication and response time to resident inquiries. “We got Podium to make our former communication manager’s job easier and improve the response time for people’s questions,” said Kathryn. But when that employee left, they didn’t have to replace the position because they were already saving 10+ hours per week.
Now the team uses templates to quickly respond to frequently asked questions, helping employees get answers out even faster to new inquiries. “Canned answers are working really well for us. We can get a response out right away instead of referring the resident to one of our coworkers” said Kathryn.
- A modernized, more secure payment process
With new card readers and text-to-pay options, processing payments is easier, faster, and more secure. And employees and residents aren’t the only ones happy with the change. Local businesses are seeing the benefits, too. “It’s helped our relationship with businesses,” said Bethany Bee. And Kathryn added, “It’s just quicker and easier. It’s what they’re used to.”
Plus, it’s easing the burden on the finance team. Bethany Bee is creating and sending out invoices in one easy step instead of waiting on invoices from finance and then payments from mailed checks or in-person transactions. “Permits, business licensing, special events, ticket sales—anything like that—the best way to do it is through Podium. We just send a payment link,” said Bethany.
Results and ROI
In just one year with Podium, the city of Vineyard, Utah has enjoyed results like:
→ Less than 12-hour time-to-payment
Card readers, text payment links, and a faster invoicing system have all made the payment process faster, more convenient, and more secure for employees, residents, and businesses. With Podium, time-to-payment is down to less than 12 hours. Previously, it may have taken days for a resident or business to visit the city office to make a payment.
→ Less than 20-minute response time for all messages
With all messages routed to a single inbox, it’s easier to assign questions to the right internal expert and get an answer back to residents and businesses quickly. Plus, with Webchat messages from Vineyard’s website being converted to text conversations, residents are easier to follow up with and they don’t have to wait by their computer for an answer from the city.
→ Saved 10+ employee hours per week
Finding answers to resident questions and then tracing that message back to Facebook or another platform was incredibly time consuming. With a faster process to connect residents to employees, the Vineyard team is saving more than 10 employee hours per week.
→ Managed 1,700+ conversations in the last 12 months
Since implementing Podium, the city of Vineyard has managed over 1,700 conversations with residents and businesses. With templates and automated routing, messages are seen, responded to, and managed quickly.
“With Podium, communication is more streamlined. We like to meet people where they are, and they’re on their phones.”
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