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311 help line service in New York: 100 million calls and counting

311 service in the United States and Canada, a gateway phone number for municipal and governmental services, is often seen as complementary to 211 service, which offers information and referral to human services. Launched in March 2003, 311 of New York City now fields on average more than 50,000 calls a day, offering information about more than 3,600 topics: school closings, recycling rules, homeless shelters, park events, pothole repairs. The service has translators on call to handle some 180 different languages. City officials tout a 2008 customer satisfaction survey, conducted by an outside firm, that compared 311’s popularity to other call centers in both the public and private sectors. 311 finished first, barely edging out hotel and retail performance but beating other government call centers, like the IRS’s, by a mile. (At the very bottom of the list, not surprisingly: cable companies.) Executive director Joseph Morrisroe attributes 311’s stellar scores to its advanced technology, relentless focus on metrics, and employee training, which ensures that “customers will speak with a polite, professional, and knowledgeable New Yorker when they need assistance.” Read the rest of this fascinating article at Wired Magazine online.  

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