City hall

The city of Aspen has digitized and centralized its customer complaint system via a new online portal at  www.cityofaspen.com/qaspen. The portal can also be used to compliment positive interactions with city staff

Aspen’s engaged citizenry now has one more avenue for getting their voice heard. The city on Monday announced a digital complaint system, available through its website. Anyone can go online using a computer or smartphone and submit a ticket. That ticket is then sent directly to the appropriate city department for staff to address the issue.

“We’ve never offered this before, and we’re thrilled to provide this new level of customer service to our residents and visitors,” said Michelle Holder, who oversaw the project for the city.

Previously, citizen complaints came in to individual city departments, which all had their own system for tracking comments and the status of the complaint. Some were still using paper logs. With the new portal, online at www.cityofaspen.com/qaspen, citizens can create an account and log in to see updates to their requests, or elect to get an email, text or phone call from staff.

“QAspen meets a previously unfulfilled need for streamlined management, tracking, response, and reporting,” said Holder. “With QAspen, residents and visitors will have more readily available information about the status and disposition of their request.”

The website makes it clear that QAspen is not an emergency service. A notice says complaints and comments will be addressed within two business days.

To file a complaint, residents need to put in the address that the complaint pertains to. They can then choose from a drop down menu that includes city departments, as well as categories like “crime” and “snow.” Many departments then have sub-categories to choose from. For instance, under “parking,” one can dispute a parking ticket, report illegally parked cars, or cars that are being stored on the street.

Kim Shewmaker is a customer service officer with the city and will be overseeing the portal. She said the main complaint that her office gets relates to extended or hazardous parking.

Holder said the system is set up to handle a wide range of potential complaints, as well as offer general information.

“These include potholes, park concerns and construction concerns, as well as requesting information about childcare options or environmental health programs,” Holder said.

A press release from the city noted the portal can also be used to compliment positive interactions with city staff. Shewmaker said citizens can still use traditional forms of communication to discuss city issues and policies.

“QAspen will serve as another avenue for requesting and reporting, and residents are still welcome to use other channels to reach staff and council as appropriate.

As the complaints come in, the city will be able to use the data to analyze problem areas such as recurring potholes or identifying a drop-off zone where neighbors frequently defy rules against idling vehicles. The city can also turn to the data for budgeting decisions or performance reviews

The vendor, QScend Technologies, Inc., was chosen to implement the portal for the city of Aspen. The city paid $34,900 for the setup of the portal, and will pay $14,400 annually for maintenance. QScend has 300 local government customers nationwide

Holder said that it will be a good sign if the complaints start rolling in.

“A foundational measure of success will be that the system is used [and] that it proves to be a useful avenue for receiving and responding to community needs,” Holder said.

Alycin Bektesh is a reporter for the Aspen Daily News. She can be reached at Alycin@aspendailynews.com or on Twitter @alycinwonder.