October 2, 2008 By News Report
Photo: Denver Mayor John Hickenlooper
The city and county of Denver's 3-1-1 customer service call center served its millionth caller at 11:35 a.m. Wednesday, Oct. 1, less than two-and-a-half years after Mayor John Hickenlooper launched the 3-1-1 system on July 7, 2006.
The millionth caller, Michele Starbuck of central Denver, called with an inquiry for the Assessor's Office. Customer service agent Ken Simpson answered the call. To celebrate the milestone, Starbuck will receive a commemorative gift basket including tickets and memberships donated by the Denver Film Society, Denver Art Museum, Museum of Contemporary Art Denver, Denver Botanic Gardens, Denver's Division of Theatres & Arenas, Denver Zoo, and the Denver Center for the Performing Arts.
"The 3-1-1 system has revolutionized Denver's approach to customer service by enabling residents and businesses to reach a live, knowledgeable person with just one call to City Hall," said Hickenlooper. "Gone are the days of sifting through over 1,200 listings for Denver city services in the phone book. Whether Denver residents have needed a park permit application, a pothole filled, or merely had a question, 3-1-1 has provided a convenient, single point of access and service for all non-emergency services and information."
Also today, Denver's 3-1-1 began handling Neighborhood Inspection Services calls directly for the first time. The 3-1-1 call center currently receives about 100 calls per hour.
Denver's 3-1-1 customer service agents are available daily, seven days a week, from 6:00 a.m. to 11:00 p.m. with limited coverage on holidays. Denverites can also access the 3-1-1 system by visiting http://www.denvergov.org, e-mailing email@example.com, faxing 720-913-8490, or by walking into the 3-1-1 Call Center to speak to an agent in person at the Webb Municipal Building, 201 W. Colfax. 9-1-1 is still the number to call for emergencies.
When calls come in to 3-1-1, trained customer service agents provide information on the spot or assign a tracking number to the inquiry if a service is requested, such as fixing a broken traffic light. The tracking number allows citizens to follow their requests for service through the City system online at www.denvergov.org. Callers can also find out the status of a specific request or add more information or comments by referring to their specific 3-1-1 tracking number by phone, e-mail or fax.
One objective of creating the 3-1-1 system was to improve public safety by reducing the number of non-emergency calls to 9-1-1, thereby freeing 9-1-1 operators to address emergencies.
Before 3-1-1 launched in 2006, almost 20 percent of the calls to Denver's 9-1-1 number were non-emergency calls. 3-1-1 is currently handling 65,000-72,000 calls per year that were previously going to the Denver Police Department's non-emergency line, representing an 8 percent reduction in non-emergency calls to 9-1-1.
With a Call Center staff of 32 people, the 3-1-1 staff handled 500,000 calls in 2007 and anticipates nearing a total of 600,000 calls in 2008. 3-1-1 is a multi-lingual service that can communicate with callers in 182 different languages. 3-1-1 serves the deaf and hearing-impaired community through a TTY number: 720-913-8479.
This Digital Communities white paper highlights discussions with IT officials in four counties that have adopted shared services models. Our aim was to learn about the obstacles these governments have faced when it comes to shared services and what it takes to overcome those roadblocks. We also spoke with several members of the IT industry who have thought long and hard about these issues. The paper offers some best practices for shared government-to-government services, but also points out challenges that government and industry still must overcome before this model gains widespread adoption.