Chatham-Kent looking at 311 for customer service

first_imgChatham-Kent will be moving forward in implementing a 311 number to improve customer service.The inspiration for bringing in 311 is its ease of use for Chatham-Kent residents, who will simply have to dial a simple three-digit telephone number for specific situations instead of calling the current municipal number.When implemented, 311 will be a non-emergency telephone number that residents can use to contact Chatham-Kent’s customer service call centre to find information about municipal services, make complaints or report problems such as graffiti or road damage.Chatham-Kent councillors approved a motion at their recent council meeting that directed administration to move ahead with the switch to 311.Leanne Segeren-Swayze, Chatham-Kent’s director of customer service, said the implementation of the service would not have a lot of costs, other than staff time.The change to 311 is the first step in calling the municipality is seen as an opportunity to improve and expand customer options to request service, information or report a concern.Chatham-Kent explored switching to 311 as a service option in 2005 but, due to the cost of close to a million dollars, the idea was not feasible at the time.Segeren-Swayze said there have been many changes to telephone service providers and technology over the past few years, which make it possible to make the switch to 311 to route calls without it being an administrative high cost.“It’s essentially zero cost,” Segeren-Swayze said.It’s expected it will take over a year to implement the 311 system, as Chatham-Kent has to contact and consult neighbouring municipalities, such as Walpole Island and St. Clair Township, to get permission and make agreements about routing calls because the Bell boundary is not the same as municipal boundaries.“Our infrastructure is already in place with our call-centre software, so we’re ahead of the game in terms of training and staff preparation for this service. It would be a very easy implementation,” Segeren-Swayze said to council.South Kent Coun. Trevor Thompson said he couldn’t support implementing the 311 service due to the lack of community engagement about the possible implementation.“There are a lot of important questions that still need to be answered and a lot of important feedback from the people of this municipality,” Thompson said, noting that everyone knows the current number.The current number wouldn’t go away, as the 311 number would route all calls to the 519-360-1998 number.Both London and Windsor have the 311 service.Chatham-Kent is also in the process of developing and implementing options for customers to text the municipal customer service team, as well as website options for self-reporting and service requests by year-end.During the 2019 budget deliberations, council approved the funding to upgrade the existing citizen request system, which will already expand the options for the self-reporting and logging on the municipal website.Chatham-Kent is also exploring the options of smartphone apps for simplified customer access. The implementation of 311 would be another option for customers to access Chatham-Kent’s customer service team.last_img

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