June 16th, 2024

Lethbridge 311 a triumph of communication and coordination


By Cal Braid - Lethbridge Herald Local Journalism Initiative Reporter on March 14, 2023.

Herald photo by Cal Braid The City has been offering the 311 service for four years, helping to streamline the communication between residents and the City's departments.

For those who aren’t up to speed the City’s commitment to improved services, here’s a date to remember: March 11 (3/11). This year, the date marked four years of connection to the City’s 311 customer contact centre.

General manager of customer service and 311, Cathy Gejdos said recently, “When we first started (in 2019), we had one department we were answering for, which was utilities services, and we’ve migrated to transit, waste and recycling, and other departments.”

The service funnels all service and information calls through one point of access and streamlines the communication process for both residents and city employees. It improves coordination for everyone.

Gejdos worked for the City prior to the formation of 311 as the utility customer service manager. She helped create the service. The idea became a project three years before its launch. “In 2016, we really started investigating it and seeing what we could do and how we could get up and running. We were very siloed as an organization. We used to have five pages in the telephone book. If you go there now, we have one. It also helped with 911 getting non-essential calls. People would call 911 and ask ‘What time is the mall open?’ I’m not kidding,” she said. “So we are 311, non-emergency services.”

Over 128,000 cases were created in the last year, and Gejdos said that those included over 100,000 information requests and over 25,000 service requests. Requests can range from simple directions or transit information to service for pothole repairs, graffiti removal, large junk item removal, and storm damage. Service calls can be made over the phone, online, via live chat, and in-person at City Hall. The contact centre is located in the old courthouse beside the Yates Theatre and had seven or eight agents handling calls on Friday. The office walls were covered with large city and transit maps. “When you’re done calling us, if it’s a service request requirement, we’ve submitted that and it’s already on its way to the department,” Gejdos said. “The minute you hang up the phone, that service request has gone to the correct department. It is being actioned. So, this is the place to call. People love it, and we’ve had amazing feedback.” She added that callers also have the advantage of their having their previous calls tracked by the system for when they call back to follow-up. It’s more efficient than starting a conversation “at ground zero” with a different agent, she said.

“We have a fabulous team here who are more than happy to take your calls and answer your questions. If it’s something that we don’t know the answer to, we will find the person who can answer that question for you.” Live agents available Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 4:30 p.m. Online request for live chat can be found at 311.lethbridge.ca

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John P Nightingale

Never thought I would say this but…
On three separate occasions I have used this number for a variety of reasons.
Not only did I get through within a minute, the agents were polite and knowledgeable, two were able to address the question directly and the other passed me onto the correct city hall official.
Now if only banks, other government services, airlines, could provide an equally efficient system!