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Salem, Virginia Increases Citizen Satisfaction with Digital Payments

online payment portal concept

The City of Salem, Virginia, has a long and proud history, tracing its origins to Native American settlements as far back as 8000 BC. Modern Salem is the county seat of Roanoke County and has a population of about 25,000. And within the past year, City staff have made great strides towards providing outstanding digital services to each of their residents.

Prior to working with MCCi to implement Laserfiche, the Commissioner of Revenue had several cumbersome paper-based payment processes that frustrated citizens and business owners—and often delayed collection of fees. But in under 10 months, they developed innovative online payment solutions that delight both customers and internal staff.

Simplifying Complex Business Fees

About 1,700 Salem businesses must renew their business license annually, and 250 of them also owe monthly fiduciary taxes.

In the past, both were laborious processes requiring business owners to complete physical paperwork and mail checks. Most frustrating of all, they had to do manual calculations based on the complex fee schedule—resulting in frequent payment errors.

But Laserfiche has transformed paying these fees into easy, convenient online processes:

  1. Business customers fill out the necessary paperwork and upload documents online.
  2. Workflows automatically capture data, store the documents in a repository, calculate the amount that the business owes, and generate an invoice.
  3. The customer is directed to an online payment form that shows their invoice with any previous or current charges.
  4. The customer decides how much to pay and submits a secure credit card payment through Authorize.net.

“We’re thrilled with that entire process. It’s been an incredible benefit to us as well as the businesses. Aside from the obvious benefit of having all this electronically versus on paper, another huge benefit is that there are formulas built in. That enables the business to simply enter the data that’s necessary, and then the calculations behind the scenes determine the fee that they owe.”

As a result, business owners get payments right the first time, reducing frustrations for everyone.

Convenient Resident Payments

Similarly, the City has created secure online payment options for personal property and real estate taxes, as well as animal licenses.

In the past, residents were able to make these payments online through a third-party vendor. But the process was far from ideal. The vendor’s fees were passed onto the resident and there was no authentication. This led to citizens being confused about what they were even paying — Vikki remembers that one person accidentally paid their mortgage through the portal.

But the City has improved this process with Laserfiche, even making the decision to absorb the credit card fees themselves to improve citizens’ experience.

This has increased the number of on-time payments that the City receives. Personal property taxes, for instance, are billed at the end of April and due at the end of May. This year, the City received 4700 payments through Laserfiche during that 30-day period, more than double the previous year’s online payments.

The time saved on our end with customer interactions is huge, as we’ve had a tremendous reduction in walk-ins,” Vikki said. “Everybody’s pleased.”

Swift Time to Value

What’s most impressive to me is how the City of Salem has implemented all of this in under a year,” said MCCi Account Executive Jeremy Gibson.

Vikki recalls that MCCi assisted them with the first processes they set up. “That gave me the opportunity to learn with someone who had direct knowledge and experience with Laserfiche. It was more than just designing the form, it was the entire business process and workflows,” she recalls.

But in very little time, Vikki has become confident in her use of Laserfiche’s low-code and no-code form and workflow design tools.

With the success the Commissioner’s Office has seen, she’s excited to work with other departments to redesign processes. Contract management is one area ripe for improvement, she says—not just storing completed contracts, but automating processes like approvals, renewal notifications, and more.

When it comes to digital transformation that improves the lives of both employees and residents, the City of Salem has only just begun.

MCCi is the only Diamond-Level Laserfiche solution provider, with over 1,100 clients (77% in the public sector). Our experienced team will work closely with you to find your unique needs and craft a tailored digital transformation strategy that enhances efficiency and improves citizen satisfaction.