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City Launches New Online Services to Better Connect With the Community

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In an ongoing effort to enhance customer service, the City of Yakima has launched new online
services which make it a lot easier for citizens to pay bills, notify the City about problems, and
share ideas and opinions.

Through the City’s new Online Payment Center, people can now pay water, irrigation, garbage,
and sewer bills more conveniently. And an upgraded version of the Yak Back feature, which
has been a longtime fixture on the City of Yakima website, now makes it simple for community
members to let the City know about potholes, areas hit by graffiti, street lights that aren’t
working, and other issues that need attention. Both the Online Payment Center and the
enhanced Yak Back feature can be accessed directly from the City website front page at
http://www.yakimawa.gov/.

“The Yak Back feature has been around for quite a while, but its capability was limited to just
e-mail,” said Information Systems Manager Wayne Wantland. “The new and improved Yak
Back now has enhanced e-mail functions and an ‘app’ that allows people to use their mobile
devices to communicate with the City,” said Wantland. “With the upgrades in place, the City will
be able to respond to feedback we get from citizens through Yak Back within two business
days. We’ve taken what has always been good about Yak Back and made it better so the
community has even more ways to connect with the City,” said Wantland.

The City provides utility services, including drinking water, irrigation, sewer, and garbage, to
about 40,000 customers. Giving those customers another option for paying their bills other than
in person or by postal mail was a natural transition to make.

“Launching the Online Payment Center is a key part of the evolution we are undergoing to
modernize how we interact with our customers,” said Utility Services Manager Tammy
Regimbal. “More and more people are paying all of their bills online. Creating a way for them to
do that with City utility bills was something that we knew we could do that would have an
immediate and positive impact on the quality of the service we provide,” said Regimbal.
Enhancing the quality of its customer service is one way the City is responding to the results of
the 2012 Yakima Citizen Survey, which included relatively low marks in the area of public trust
and accountability. In addition to the launching of the Online Payment Center and the new Yak
Back feature, improving opportunities for citizens to interact with and do business with the City
has also been incorporated in the City’s 2013 Strategic Plan. Recently adopted by the City
Council, the 2013 Strategic Plan will guide development of other customer service-related
projects in the next year.

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