Calling for a review of 311

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Hey there, time traveller!
This article was published 20/10/2021 (347 days ago), so information in it may no longer be current.

 

As we slowly transition into a post-pandemic norm, we are still feeling the effects of the troubles and inconveniences the COVID-19 pandemic brought to our daily lives. One of these is increased wait times at 311. 
One of the issues compounding 311 operations is that additional responsibilities 311 has undertaken because of the pandemic. This has resulted in higher contacts from residents over the past several months.
 Further challenges include employee turnover and a tight operations budget. Other factors are COVID-related restrictions for employees with daycare- or school-aged children and a trend to residents using email or social media to contact 311. Increased online contacts have resulted in staff being diverted from call-taking and caused an increase in wait times. 
Residents who contact my office have reported drastic wait times — up to an hour just to try to connect with an agent. People are frustrated by that point and often get upset if the 311 agent isn’t able to provide immediate reassurance that what they want addressed will be done.
As 311 is typically the first point of contact for residents with complaints and concerns about city services, it has become increasingly difficult for residents to access these services and obtain a solution. 
That is why I have decided to raise a motion that will call for a review of how we do business, in order to improve wait and resolution times.
For many years, I was in charge of a service and help desk with call agents in India, Toronto and Ohio, so I do know the work that needs to be don, but I am stepping back and we will hopefully get a report informing council how the 311 experience can be improved.
My fear is that the cost to improve this service will be higher than what was in place prior to that of 311— which residents regularly remind me was one whereby people could speak directly to the department overseeing their issue of concern. 
However, the trend in major Canadian and U.S. cities is the model that the City of Winnipeg has adopted — for better or worse. 
We seem to have gone down a rabbit hole on the centralized case centre known as 311 — now we have to figure out how it can work better for Winnipeg.
As always, I’m proud to represent Transcona at City Hall, and I hope you find my articles informative. 
Should you want to discuss this or other items of concern, please contact my office by calling 204-986-8087 or emaiing snason@winnipeg.ca

 

As we slowly transition into a post-pandemic norm, we are still feeling the effects of the troubles and inconveniences the COVID-19 pandemic brought to our daily lives. One of these is increased wait times at 311. 

One of the issues compounding 311 operations is that additional responsibilities 311 has undertaken because of the pandemic. This has resulted in higher contacts from residents over the past several months.

Further challenges include employee turnover and a tight operations budget. Other factors are COVID-related restrictions for employees with daycare- or school-aged children and a trend to residents using email or social media to contact 311. Increased online contacts have resulted in staff being diverted from call-taking and caused an increase in wait times. 

Residents who contact my office have reported drastic wait times — up to an hour just to try to connect with an agent. People are frustrated by that point and often get upset if the 311 agent isn’t able to provide immediate reassurance that what they want addressed will be done.

As 311 is typically the first point of contact for residents with complaints and concerns about city services, it has become increasingly difficult for residents to access these services and obtain a solution. 

That is why I have decided to raise a motion that will call for a review of how we do business, in order to improve wait and resolution times.

For many years, I was in charge of a service and help desk with call agents in India, Toronto and Ohio, so I do know the work that needs to be done, but I am stepping back and we will hopefully get a report informing council how the 311 experience can be improved.

My fear is that the cost to improve this service will be higher than what was in place prior to that of 311— which residents regularly remind me was one whereby people could speak directly to the department overseeing their issue of concern. 

However, the trend in major Canadian and U.S. cities is the model that the City of Winnipeg has adopted — for better or worse. 

We seem to have gone down a rabbit hole on the centralized case centre known as 311 — now we have to figure out how it can work better for Winnipeg.

As always, I’m proud to represent Transcona at City Hall, and I hope you find my articles informative. 

Should you want to discuss this or other items of concern, please contact my office by calling 204-986-8087 or emailing snason@winnipeg.ca

Shawn Nason

Shawn Nason
Transcona ward report

Shawn Nason is the city councillor for Transcona ward.

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