311 Means Customer Service In San Antonio, Texas
Washington, D.C., - In less than six years, the City of San Antonio, Texas, has more than doubled the number of customer service calls the city receives while at the same cutting the number of calls it loses in half. The success of San Antonio's 311 system in responding to the needs of its citizens and the lessons drawn from that city's experiences with 311 are detailed in a new case study report, "San Antonio Customer Service 311 Call Center Department," released today by ICMA, the premier local government leadership and management organization. The report is the first in a series of case studies, Call 311: Connecting Citizens to Local Government.
311-customer service systems allow the public to access their local government 24 hours a day, 7 days a week with such non-emergency calls as loss of water service, stray animals, and potholes. The systems provide crucial community feedback on what information citizens most need and want from their local government.
"To effectively run local governments, systems like 311 which provide an efficient communication channel for residents are priceless," said Robert O'Neill, executive director of ICMA. "San Antonio not only provides good customer service, but it generates a substantial amount of data to feed into its performance and planning processes which ultimately moves the community forward."
The report highlights how San Antonio integrated its existing work order systems to create the new 311 call center, the system's unique features, and how it has been used to reach out to citizens to help the city better respond to their needs. The report covers how new data are being generated by the system, and in turn, used by city departments to improve performance. San Antonio's use of service level agreements (SLA's) to ensure city departments respond to service requests in a timely manner is also discussed.
Michael Armstrong, Assistant City Manager and Chief Information Officer, City of San Antonio describes the 311 system as win-win for the city and its residents. "I think the citizens get something that's really useful for them, and we [as local government managers] get another way to begin to understand what's out there...I'm a great believer. It should be one of the core functions of government at all levels."
The San Antonio case study is the first step in a larger national effort funded by the Alfred P. Sloan Foundation. The initiative also involves the first national survey of local governments on their use of 311 and other customer service technology. Through the survey, ICMA will collect data on the extent to which 311 systems and other related technologies are being used by local governments. The national survey, which will be conducted in the first quarter of this year, will explore successful implementation of these systems and how they are being used to respond to citizen needs and strengthen local government-constituent relationships. The survey also will examine potential barriers to the implementation of these systems.
The Alfred P. Sloan Foundation makes grants to advance science, technology and the quality of American life. For more information on ICMA and the 311-customer service system study, visit www.ICMA.org/311study.
ICMA advances professional local government worldwide. ICMA (the International City/County Management Organization) provides published resources, professional networks, technical assistance, grant-funded consulting services and professional development to more than 8,200 chief appointed managers, administrators, assistant administrators, and other individuals throughout the world. The organization's resources and services reach thousands of local, county, and state government professionals, academics, consultants, citizens, and others focused on effective leadership and management at the local government level.
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