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311 Contact Centre marks 10 years of helping Winnipeggers

311 launched in 2009 as a way to improve customer service

February 1, 2019

If you spot a pothole, had your garbage collection missed, or you need to know when the next bus is, reaching out to the City of Winnipeg is as easy as dialing 311 at any time. Ten years ago it was much more complicated to contact the City.

“There would be literally eight pages of phone numbers in the phone book and they were called blue pages,” said Ken Nawolsky, who helped launch the 311 Contact Centre in 2009.

On top of finding the correct phone number, many of calls would only be answered during civic business hours, from 8:30 a.m. to 4:30 p.m.

In an effort to make streamline customer service for residents, the 311 contact centre was developed as directed by council and based on a recommendation from the then-Mayor’s Red Tape Commission.

“We basically had a year and a half to get this implemented and learning from experiences from other cities, they said good luck,” he said.

One of the most time consuming parts of creating 311 was finding out how each department operated.

“We spent a lot of time mapping out our processes and understanding how we provided services and that included also trying to figure out how much time it took use to provide a service,” said Yvette Cenerini, who was a department representative on the 311 launch committee.

Winnipeg was among the first group of cities in Canada to develop a contact centre.

In addition to making it easier for residents to find out valuable information, the delivery of City services also improved.

“In essence this process this process helped to standardize the way we interact with customers so we could provide a consistent level of service,” said Nawolsky.

Evolution Of 311

As the technology has changed over the past decade, 311 has adapted to continue to meet the needs of residents.

In addition to calling 311, you can now reach out through Twitter and Facebook as well as by email or the 311 mobile app. For people who prefer to meet in person, you can still visit the service counter at the Susan A Thompson Building at 510 Main Street.

Winnipeg Transit is the topic most frequently asked about, with more than 175,000 information requests in 2018. As for service requests, garbage and recycling takes top spot with more than 65,000 requests in 2018.

The Voice Of 311

While a lot has changed when it comes to the ways residents interact with 311, one of the things that remained the same is the voice greeting callers.

When the launch committee was trying to decide who should record the message that plays when someone calls in, she volunteered because she is bilingual.

“It’s kind of funny because people will complain about how they called 311 and had to listen to my voice for 10 minutes but it’s fun to say that is me,” she said. “I am proud to do that because I am proud of the service and proud of the organization as a whole.”

The 311 Contact Centre operates 24/7 and can help with requests for service, information, concerns, as well as register you for City programs.

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