“One of my objectives is to create ‘greater responsiveness and accountability’ in meeting the needs of a very diverse county,” said Leggett. “As part of this overall objective, I believe a County government that ‘listens’ must have a single, one-stop phone number for service requests, information, and complaints and a web portal where County residents can enter their own requests, get their own information, and track the progress of the work requested. With our new MC311 system, that’s exactly what we’ll get.”
Features of the new MC311 Customer Service Center (CSC) include:
• Customers can call one easy-to-remember number in order to access Montgomery County information and services – “3-1-1”;
• Customers can also access information and create or track service requests on the new website at www.montgomerycountymd.gov/311;
• 311 also can be reached from most wireless phones – or residents can reach the Call Center by dialing 240-777-0311, which is also the number to reach MC311 for calls originating outside Montgomery County;
• Hours of Call Center operation are Monday through Friday, 7 a.m. to 5 p.m. The self-service website is available 24 hours a day, seven days a week;
• About 30 County government “information and referral” phone numbers are now answered directly by MC311. All other County phones can continue to be dialed direct;
• Trained representatives who speak Spanish, Korean, Chinese, Vietnamese and French are available, as is a language interpretation service for other languages;
• The TTY line is available by calling 240-773-3556;
• Customer service representatives and the online system use a state-of-the-art database of information and services about County government that can be continually updated so the most current facts are available via the web portal;
• MC311 will provide County leaders and managers a wealth of systematic, real-time information on department performance on service requests that will be valuable in holding departments accountable for their performance and assist policymakers in decisions about the most effective allocation of County resources;
• In the event of a community event/emergency, like a water main break, H1N1 flu epidemic, or weather-related incident, the 311 system can quickly incorporate real time information;
• By consolidating different County department call centers and information and tracking systems, MC311 has already projected more than $10 million in savings between the current and coming fiscal years;
• MC311 is also designed to support the County’s “911” emergency system by diverting some non-emergency calls that are currently answered by 911 operators – freeing up 911 time to focus on emergencies.
“With MC311, we’re streamlining service,” said County Council President Nancy Floreen. “That means not only convenient, one-stop shopping but also cost-effectiveness, which is important to everyone in this economic climate.”
"The Management and Fiscal Policy (MFP) Committee has been supportive of the Technology Modernization effort that funded MC311, believing that upgrading the technology infrastructure for the County will help residents and businesses alike,” said Councilmember Duchy Trachtenberg, who chairs the MFP Committee. “I am happy that in MC311, we have accomplished this, but also are giving Councilmembers a modern tool with which to better understand and track the concerns of each taxpayer, as well as the responsiveness of our hard-working departments and agencies."
In FY10, Montgomery County began to implement the centralized Customer Service Center (CSC) and Constituent Relationship Management System to enhance access to community services. The “soft launch” for MC311 began on January 11, 2010 and provided the opportunity to adequately stage and manage bringing departments and offices onto the new system. Thirty-eight departments and offices make up the MC311 initiative and since the soft launch began, the CSC has averaged over 1,630 calls per day. Five call centers previously housed in various departments have shifted to the MC311 CSC and the information and referral calls currently received by each of the Executive Branch departments and offices have also been centralized at 311. Staff from the following departments were transferred to the 311 call center: Environmental Protection, Finance, Fire and Rescue Services, General Services, Health and Human Services, Housing and Community Affairs, Permitting Services, Offices of the County Executive, Police, Recreation, Regional Services Centers, and Transportation.
Effective July 1, the new MC311 program will fall under the Office of Public Information.
“Local governments provide countless services for their residents, but, sometimes, figuring out just who to call can be a challenge,” said Public Information Director Patrick Lacefield. “Now, residents need only remember two numbers – 911 for emergencies and 311 for non-emergencies. And our on-line website offers all of us County residents a self-service option that’s available at our fingertips 24/7.”
311 Call Centers have already been implemented in many counties and cities across the country, including New York, Baltimore City, San Francisco, Minneapolis, Albuquerque, Charlotte, and Washington, D.C.
For more information about MC311, call the Office of Public Information at 240-777-6507. To view the brochure and the Frequently Asked Questions, click here. Click here to see the 311 Public Service Announcement.
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