Although shaping policy is certainly a critical function of public servants in legislative offices, many elected officials are surprised at the number of requests to help constituents participate in or overcome problems with government. In fact, it is not uncommon for a congressional office to receive thousands of requests for help each year. Members who handle constituent services quickly and effectively have become an important part of our system of government. Efficient handling of requests can also build a great deal of goodwill with your constituents.
What is casework?What other services do offices provide? When a constituent needs assistance with a federal agency, House offices step in to help. Other important services provided by offices include Congressional internships, academy nominations, and tours.
Build a Library of Form Letters - Casework tends to involve personal issues with constituents, so many offices don’t consider having a collection of pre-written form letters at a caseworker’s disposal. However, a great deal of time is then spent reviewing the personalized letters on each case, which slows the process down. If there were already a pre-approved letter, one that only required a caseworker to fill in personal details, the turnaround time for casework-related communications would improve considerably.
Personalize Email Templates - Email templates are used with Fireside to enable responses to constituents to be formatted inside of an HTML message body. These templates can also be used to create personalized staff signatures at the bottom of each form letter or to send an email on official digital letterhead as part of an agency inquiry. This is very convenient for caseworkers who don't have to personalize each letter they write, as well as DC staff who respond to flag and tour requests.
Track Casework Results - Cases can be closed for many reasons, so simply tracking the number of cases your staff has closed gives you only a part of the picture in terms of your impact on constituents. Fireside not only allows users to track cases by status (open/closed) but also, most importantly, by their outcome. Want to know if your office’s casework program is effective? Mark your cases as “Favorable” or “Unfavorable” to get an accurate picture of whether you were able to deliver a good outcome for your constituents. If your office would prefer not to track case outcome, you can use our “Neutral/Closed” option. The Outcome Report is an invaluable tool for tracking the quantity and quality of your processing of constituent casework.
Manage with Casework - The best way to handle individual communication issues is with a case. The Fireside Casework platform allows you to manage constituent services and projects in an efficient and coordinated way. Add notes, files and reminders to help track individual requests while also facilitating back-and-forth communication with constituents. Why have these components scattered all over the place or buried in lengthy email chains when everything could be organized in a central place that is easily accessible?
Increase Constituent Services Efficiency - One of the easiest ways to boost your efficiency when processing constituent service requests is to have requests sent directly into Fireside. You could spend time manually creating new constituents and adding the specifics of their requests, or you could have those details automatically added to your database as soon as the constituent clicks submit. Once it’s in Fireside, you will be able to easily manage the request or start a case.
Follow-up with Constituents - With our Audience Builder, you can use casework criteria (agency, case status, case outcome and creation date) to proactively follow up with constituents. Include people with Veterans Administration casework when you announce related legislation, or send a satisfaction survey to constituents with casework closed in the previous month. The same methodology would apply to follow up with people who request tours, apply for internships, or apply for a service academy nomination.
Mobilize Your Efforts - Working in a congressional office means always being on the go. Whether you’re working from home, on your personal laptop, or on a mobile device, you can access your Fireside platform anywhere. If you’re at an event with the Member, you can make life super easy by logging personal constituent interactions in real time as they happen instead of waiting for the next time you’re at your desk.