Have you owned property in Edmonton for a while? If so, you may have noticed that the City of Edmonton’s property assessment notice started looking a bit different a couple of years ago. And you weren’t the only one: the International Association of Business Communicators recently presented our revamped property assessment notice with the 2016 Gold Quill Award — the highest honour in the communications world.
The assessment notice is the largest communication piece the City’s assessment team produces. It goes out to over 370,000 property owners across Edmonton every year and is essential for providing them with basic information about their properties. “And yet, it hadn’t been touched since the early ‘90s, I believe,” says Olga Mikheenkova, Communications Advisor with Corporate Communications. “By 2014, it did not look all that transparent and understandable anymore, so I was all in to improve something that affected so many people.”
Aside from hitting the objectives of creating a new look and feel of the notice and presenting the information more clearly—which was double tested by a group of dedicated homeowners— the assessment team received feedback from City Councillors and homeowners alike saying, “Thank you for making the notice understandable and pleasant to look at!”
In addition, the revamp had some other unexpected, but welcome, consequences. “The new notice ended up being smaller, which allowed us to save on both printing and delivery costs,” says Kathy Gillis, Manager of Quality Management with Assessment and Taxation. “And that’s not all, it also shaved off about three weeks from the assessment mailout prep time. Now, we have more time and money to implement other projects that improve property owner’s experience when they contact us.”
Rod Risling, Branch Manager of Assessment and Taxation couldn’t agree more, “Customer service is our number one priority and with an 18 per cent drop in inquiries, going from about 5,000 a year to 3,600 in 2014, we definitely moved the needle in the right direction.”
“It’s just another example of the terrific work being done to present our information in a very transparent and accessible manner, with the goal of making it easier for property owners,” he adds.
Other projects that have been done in the past few years to do just that include:
- Revamping of all assessment and taxation notices creating a new standardized look and feel helps present important information more clearly.
- Updating the secure website for homeowners — assessment details and sales reports along with an improved interface help make comparisons of properties easier.
- Adding assessment information to Edmonton Maps and OpenData so one can check assessment values property by property or download the entire database.
- Creating infographics — this visual way presents assessment highlights for the year.
- Releasing videos — fun, visual aids help explain the sometimes confusing assessment process.
If you’re a homeowner, make sure to take the time to check out all of the assessment online resources available to you.
“It does feel good to get recognized internationally for the work we do,” says Olga, “but it’s even better to see that what we do actually improves the service to our customers.”