Adoption of 311 led to dramatic increase in reported business complaints

CNN Graphic by Jack Sutter

CNN Staff

(March 13, 2019) – Mobile app Number 311 is making it easier to file a complaint and follow it to resolution. Within an hour, a team of operators review the complaint and process an inquiry within 24 hours. In many cases, an automated hotline will be available to people looking for immediate help. By automating this process and implementing a dedicated team of operators, the city of Austin, Texas’ 311 system now responds to more than 150,000 311 calls and emails per year.

In addition to finding the correct office, users can also file a complaint by simply submitting an address, a map and the contact information of the person or business whose business could be involved. If the details are not provided, the complaint will be directed to the local office.

“After implementing the new system, we were surprised by the number of people contacting 311 to report issues,” said Kevin Patterson, General Manager, 311 Austin. “Some people wanted to give a name, while others wanted to know whether an office could be reached from other areas. What’s important is that we’re able to look at a complaint and provide the full story in just a matter of hours instead of the hours it used to take. There’s no need to feel as if we’re always up to date; we’re doing everything we can to be as quickly as possible.”

About The 311 Inaugural Launch.

The 311 call center is the only phone number on every street in downtown Austin that provides information about how to file a complaint. The 311 call center has an average call volume of 162,445 per month, and some calls come in by 2:00am to solve issues. Anyone with a complaint can reach the 311 operator through a handheld device, telephone, or by using the new web portal. Callers may reach an operator from their phone or smartphone or they can submit a complaint by sending an email to [email protected], or by visiting the new website, www.austincity.gov/311.

About 311 Austin.

The 311 service is a core service provided by the City of Austin to Austin citizens. As of January 1, 2015, the City of Austin began replacing the old 311 service telephone system with a new universal caller ID call routing system. In November 2018, Austin became the first city in Texas to implement a video call system for 311 users. As a result, residents no longer have to stop at the phone to speak with a staff member. The new system has more accurate information because all calls are answered by at least two operators. This new 911 Call Center already receives more than 650,000 calls annually.

The 311 Call Center staff is staffed by two full-time operators and has other qualified technicians on hand to respond to the growing volume of calls. Nearly 20 people worked at the center in late February of 2018 to handle 212,418 calls.

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About the City of Austin:

Austin is a vibrant, irreverent and on the cutting edge city. Austin, Inc. publishes Austin Business, the local free weekly newspaper. Under the leadership of Mayor Steve Adler, Austin has long prided itself on its historic collection of attributes and the quality of life it offers residents. Austin is a clean and efficient city that fosters collaboration among government agencies and its community, works together to attract and retain creative and innovative companies, and invests in infrastructure that will support the city’s continued growth and stability for years to come. To learn more about Austin and access ongoing news, statistics and other information, visit www.austin.gov or subscribe to our blog, www.blog.austin.gov.

Contacts:

Technology & Operations

Anna M. Catafagno, 817-247-8660

[email protected]

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