8, 2007 - There were no noisemakers, flashing lights, falling
balloons or popping champagne corks when the City of Knoxville's Call
311 Center hit a milestone this week.
Instead the staff of 311, the city's customer service center, did
what it does best when it fielded the 500,000th call for service
this week - it quickly and competently responded to a Knoxville
The caller wanted the city to know that the red signal on a traffic
light at Broadway and Hotel Road was not working.
The 311 customer service representative routed the information
to the city's traffic engineering section and the problem was fixed
shortly after they received the information.
The call came in just before noon on Tuesday, November 6, and it
was a satisfying moment for a group - all but one member of the
311 staff has been there since the beginning - that started operations
a little more than two years ago.
At just over a minute-and-a-half average length per call that's
750,000 minutes or 12,500 hours of helping people in the city with
everything from codes complaints to traffic ticket according to
311 Director Russ Jensen.
"This is a great achievement for a group of folks who do wonderful
work for the city and the people who live here," said Mayor
Bill Haslam. "We had high expectations for 311, which gives
people an opportunity to call one number, go to a single source,
to get information about city services."
"And it has turned out even than we had hoped for," he
added. "It's made it easier for people to contact us, it's
streamlined the process of getting their requests to the right department
and it's made it easier for us to act on that request."
Implementing a 311 system was one of Haslam's goals during his
first campaign for Mayor in 2003.
The 311 Center's motto is "One Number. One Call." and
it's the direct line for access to a tremendous range of information
about, or requests for, services provided by city government.
That ranges from information about city parks and recreation programs
and schedules and requests to repair potholes to leaf pickup schedules,
city court dates and codes enforcement issues among many other areas.
"311 is Knoxville's phone number," Jensen said. "Our
main focus is customer service and we look at ways to improve that
service every day".
When a call comes in to 311 a customer service representatives
provides the requested information if the caller has a question.
If the caller has a service request a 311 representative enters
it into the city's advanced tracking system and submits it to the
Since all requests have a tracking number callers can keep up with
the status of their requests.
The system also helps the city because it can be used to generate
reports about the volume and type of services citizens are requesting,
in what areas, allows the city to identify chronic problems and
indicates how various city departments are responding to those needs.
The 311 staff includes six customer service agents, Chris Coyle,
Shawanna Tipton, Rebecca Hill, Cheri Hollifield, Jay McCrae, Denise
Johnson and Jensen.