Decrease in 311 Calls - Better Service, Fewer Complaints

Communications Director

Eric Vreeland
evreeland@knoxvilletn.gov
(865) 215-3480

400 Main St., Room 654A
Knoxville, TN 37902

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Decrease in 311 Calls - Better Service, Fewer Complaints

Posted: 01/13/2014
January 13, 2014 - The number of total calls coming into the City's 311 Call Center dropped by 8 percent in 2013 from the previous calendar year - and 311 Director Russ Jensen says that's actually good news.

"We're getting fewer complaints and offering better service," Jensen said.

There are several reasons for the decrease. There were about 190,000 calls to the 311 Call Center in 2013.

Self-service online options available for paying a Municipal Court fee or checking a court date resulted in about a third of the fall-off in incoming calls, Jensen said.

More proactivity by City workers - for example, Codes Enforcement inspectors cruising neighborhoods and spotting potential issues, sometimes before they become nuisances and generate complaints - is another reason for the decrease in 311 calls.

Overall in 2013, requests for assistance from the public decreased by 6.9 percent, while internally initiated service requests increased.

Meanwhile, 72 percent of all incoming 311 calls in 2013 were answered in less than 20 seconds - a 4 percent increase from 2012.

And are people happy with how their calls are handled?

More than 100 people who called 311 last year were randomly selected by computer and surveyed about their call-in experience. Ninety-seven percent - or 111 of the 114 respondents - said their questions were answered appropriately; all 114 respondents said the customer service representative was courteous and responsive; and nearly 80 percent said their service request was handled in a timely manner.

In surveys comparing cities in the United States and Canada, Knoxville's 311 consistently ranks at or near the top in customer service and cost efficiency.

Jensen calls his employees "advocates" for people calling in needing help.

"They have the empathy factor," he said. "Our folks care about the person on the other end of the line, and they'll stay on the line until the problem gets fixed."