Thursday April 27, 2006
Louisville’s MetroCall 311, the customer-service call center created by Mayor Jerry Abramson in 1989 to make government more accessible to citizens, will be showcased to city officials from across the country this week. Representatives of 34 local governments are in town for the sixth annual Government Contact Center Conference, Wednesday through Friday at the Kentucky International Convention Center.
“MetroCall 311 has set the standard for remarkable customer service since 1989. I’m proud of how MetroCall has become an invaluable information resource for citizens and a vehicle for registering a concern or requesting a service,” Abramson said. “We are excited to host other government call centers and to share secrets of Louisville’s successes.”
During the conference, attendees from as far west as San Jose, Calif., and as far east as Washington, D.C., will learn about the latest contact-center technology and share best practices. In addition to cities with existing call centers, some participating cities are currently considering creating a call center.
Louisville’s government call center opened in 1989 as CityCall and served the former city of Louisville. Since then, the service has been expanded metro-wide and is available to citizens 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Email and website services, and bi-lingual customer-service representatives have been added. MetroCall 311 averages 700 calls per day and the service has fielded more than 2 million calls since its inception.
Louisville, along with Lexington, Ky., and several other cities in the southeast, are founding members of the Association of Government Call Center Employees.
MetroCall’s top ten call topics:
Weekly junk pick up questions
Monthly junk pick up questions
Waste reduction and hazardous-material disposal information
Property maintenance issues (abandoned vehicles, grass too high, etc)
Garbage collection issues
Questions about the metro council
Police non-emergency information
County clerk’s office questions (car tax, plates, etc.)
About MetroCall 311
MetroCall 311 is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week to Louisville citizens. There are several ways to access MetroCall – by calling 311 or (502) 574-5000. TDD users dial 574-4091. Citizens also may email firstname.lastname@example.org or register their concern or question on the MetroCall page of the city’s website, LouisvilleKy.gov.
Citizens generally use MetroCall to register concerns, offer suggestions, express an opinion or inquire about services such as waste collection/junk removal; recycling programs; public events; inspections, permits and licenses; environmental or beautification needs, etc.
Thirteen MetroCall 311 representatives serve as ambassadors to metro government. Two of those representatives have been with MetroCall 311 since the first call in 1989.
Before MetroCall 311, citizens spent many frustrated moments searching for the correct agency to address their needs. For example, in 1989 a citizen called several agencies to complain about a vacant lot. Consequently, three different city crews showed up on the same day to cut and clean the lot.
To ensure government agencies are held accountable, MetroCall 311 tracks service requests with an integrated computer system that is shared with all city agencies and the Metropolitan Sewer District.
MetroCall 311 excels in customer service when there are special needs. For example, MetroCall took requests for housing and goods donations when the city was assisting families in Louisville displaced by Hurricane Katrina last year, and is especially useful in assisting citizens with information during community disasters, eliminating the need for the Emergency Operations Center to create a special phone bank to answer general community questions during a crisis.
In 1996, the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard University developed a case study on Louisville’s MetroCall 311 (CityCALL at the time). Two professors conducting research found the program to be an efficient and effective customer-service center, making local government service-friendly.