Councillor Shelley Carroll

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Friday, December 09, 2005

DIAL 3-1-1 But not until 2008

Council has set a strategy in motion to completely change the way the public gets response on City Services. The staff communication below spells it out but to sum it all up: When we speak of being the 5th largest City in North America, we should add, "And the only one still dealing with customer complaints through a huge system of department voice mails instead of 311."

In New York City, whether you are calling to find out how to get somewhere by public transit, to complain about garbage not picked up or about a burned out street light, you dial 311 and the person who answers must track your request and keep the file until your problem is solved. At the end of each month, the councillor gets a record of every call received from her ward and whether or not the issue has been resolved.
After three years, NYC politicians report it is the way to go in terms of serving large wards like ours.

Services become much more streamlined and responsive as the 311 centre can track action across all departments. Better yet, your representative gets a print-out that exposes chronic problems, brings together calls to our own office and to 311 to indicate exactly how we need to prioritize our own requests/demands for our ward.

See the announcement below:
As the Deputy City Manager responsible for the 3-1-1 Customer Service Strategy, I have some good news to share with you about the initiative. At its December meeting, Toronto City Council approved a service model and a 2006-8 capital budget of $26.9 million for the 3-1-1 project. Council’s approval was based on recommendations of the Council-Staff Working Group (CSWG), established in December 2004.

The new service model promotes a citizen-centred approach to the delivery of services. The implementation of the different features of the 3-1-1 Customer Service Strategy will be phased-in over three years to optimize the use of existing City resources and to build early public confidence in 3-1-1 services.

The service model features:
• A 3-1-1 service page on the City’s Web site that will provide access for the public to initiate and track their own service order requests;
• A 3-1-1 consolidated contact centre that provides general inquiry information, and accepts and tracks service order requests for five divisions: Solid Waste Management, Transportation, Toronto Water, Forestry, and Municipal Licensing and Standards;
• Access to the 3-1-1 knowledge base by Council members to assist with constituent inquiries;
• The ability for Council members to initiate and track service order requests through the 3-1-1 system; and
• Ward activity reporting.

You may recall that the original 3-1-1 capital budget estimate that was tabled at Council in November 2004 totalled $46.8 million. It assumed a consolidated contact centre providing a full menu of service order requests from all City divisions that provide front-line service to the public. However, after conducting an assessment of divisional readiness for 3-1-1 implementation and associated costs, the CSWG recommended a more limited service order model, starting with only the departments listed above, at less cost.

In the New Year, many activities will get under way to support 3-1-1 implementation.
The 3-1-1 contact centre design is expected to be completed by early 2006. Construction in the Metro Hall Council Chamber will begin in early spring for completion by mid 2007. The centre’s public launch is planned for early 2008.