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City of Tampa Construction Services Center saves 130 hours, reduces liability, and stays compliant using Acta

How the City of Tampa saves time, increases consistency, and enables compliance with new plan review timelines.

Along the Gulf Coast of Florida, housing a rich business center, the historic Ybor District, and bustling nightlife, is the City of Tampa. Tampa (pop. 395,912) is seeing high residential and commercial growth. While the City is known for its good food and cultural events, those who live in Tampa know that the City has a reputation for being innovative, efficient, and consistent in its permitting. In order to maintain and improve their reputation for strong permitting, Tampa relies on Acta software to respond to customer permitting questions faster, and to be compliant with new regulations on plan review timelines. 

How Tampa ensures efficiency and consistency in customer service 

New construction means that contractors, business owners, developers, and homeowners have a lot of questions about permitting. These questions range from: what they need to submit their applications, what the comments on their applications mean, how to resubmit their applications, to what the timelines for getting a Certificate of Occupancy are. 

Tampa’s Construction Services Center found that their staff spent too much time answering these similar questions from customers. 

And, “The quality of information customers received really depended on who answered the question. Customers would just ask multiple people before they got the answer they were hoping for.” says JC Hudgison, Chief Building Official for the City

JC needed a way to standardize customer communications across functions–from natural resources and inspections to plan review and large scale projects. He wanted a solution that would not only save staff time spent assisting customers, but he also wanted to ensure that every staff member had the tools to send complete and consistent information to applicants. Last but not least, his staff needed to be able to easily edit staff’s customer service information from a central place to keep up with legislative and process updates. 

“We needed to ensure that no matter who was responding to the inquiry, they were sending the same, up-to-date information in an easy way.” says JC. 

Acta was the solution 

The city used Acta to respond to customer inquiries faster and easier with standardized language. Acta stores a knowledge base of customer service templates that any staff member can click on to build responses to customer inquiries. It sits in staff’s email inbox, and allows them to consistently respond to questions faster than manual methods. 

“It’s a simple tool that sits in our email inbox, saves a bunch of staff time, and mitigates against avoidable transfers of inquiries.” says Claudia Ewing, Head of Client Facilitators for the Department. 

Within one month of implementing Acta, the department used the tool to respond to over 700 customer inquiries with standardized language, and saved over 130 hours of staff time. 

“With Acta, we’re able to provide written solutions to customers that are consistent across all staff and save tons of time while doing so,” says Claudia. 

Meeting new HB423 timelines and improving workflows

HB423 will require Building Departments to communicate with customers about deficiencies in the permit application and requests for additional information within 2 days, and that departments can only ask for additional information 3 times before a Certificate of Occupancy is automatically issued. 

Our internal emphasis on consistent and efficient communications with customers will help us meet HB423 regulations. Acta ensures we can quickly tell the customer exactly what they need to do to get a permit or resubmit their application. The consistent language is key to meeting requirements.” says JC. 

Additionally, making it easier for staff to assist customers throughout the process faster allows staff to review plans and process permits according to the new timelines. 

Consistency is key like JC said. It saves time and mitigates against liability because customers are getting the complete information they need to move forward successfully with their permits. Delivering smooth permit experiences is a huge win for the City. 

"Ensuring homeowners, developers, and business owners receive the information they need, when they need it, is crucial to improving the customer experience," said Tampa’s Mayor Jane Castor. "Our Construction Services division remains busy throughout the year and this kind of technology helps staff answer questions quickly, while always remaining thorough and consistent."  

Perhaps your department could benefit from increased consistency, compliance, and time savings on customer service? Visit our home page to schedule a demo and inquire about a pilot with our solution!  

Pavani Peri

Co-Founder & COO

Pavani has worked for local government in economic development. In addition to Acta Solutions, she also works with an affordable housing agency.