Tuesday, June 12, 2012

Welcome to our new 311 Blog!

As 311 marks its two-year anniversary, having handled over one million phone calls calls already and hundreds of thousands of visits to our 311 web portal, we are setting up this blog so that you will have one more way to give us feedback on our 311 system. County Executive Ike Leggett established 311 to make County government more effective, more accountable and more responsive.

That meant one number to call – 311 – for information and to request County government services.

311 is, essentially, the front office operation for all County departments. We take the information, create service requests, and send them to the folks who do the work. When you call 311, you are calling the department. In many cases you are speaking to the same folks who handled those calls before 311 was established.

The 311 Customer Service Center is designed to make it easier for county residents to obtain information, make service requests, and track progress on those requests. The system will also give the County timely information on County department performance to more effectively target resources to particular areas and needs.
Before 311 many residents didn’t know what number to call. When they reached someone it was often the wrong person. Often they simply reached a voicemail and never talked to a “live” person. There was little to no ability to track service requests across departments and tracking even within departments was often unsystematic. The information County managers used to allocate resources and solve problems was often not timely or was more anecdotal than scientific.
By consolidating County department call centers and doing away with duplicative systems and licensing fees, 311 saved the County about $10 million in its first two years. 
About two dozen phone numbers have been transferred to 311, leaving about 11,000 numbers that can still be dialed directly. If you call 311 and ask to speak to an individual County employee, you are connected. If we call for an issue that’s handled by the State, by municipalities, MCPS, or other agencies, we will connect you directly to them.
And, of course, our web portal – at www.mc311.com  -- is available 24/7. Most service requests, including, most recently added, bulk trash and scrap metal pickup, can be handled through the portal.
Every few months we survey County 311 users and have consistently found about a 75 to 80 percent satisfaction rate. That’s fine – but not good enough. We are making constant improvements.
For example, in mid-August, the 311 Call Center will expand its hours from 7 AM- 5 PM to 7 AM to 7 PM to better serve working families.
Let us know how we are doing – and thanks for visiting this blog.


Patrick Lacefield
Director, Montgomery County Office of Public Information

29 comments:

  1. Why don't you have a blog posting during this week's storm?

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  2. Thanks for your posting. We did include on the right side of the Blog page all the County updates during the storm.

    BTW, 311 took over 12,000 calls (not to mention website visits) during the week of the storm and the immediate aftermath -- despite having to relocate the operation due to power failures that shut down the building in which 311 was located.

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  3. I made the call to 311 to report no-show Ride On Bus, the rep took my information and submitted without asking if I want to comment. She said go ahead. I gave my comment that it was not the first time, it happened too often and I spent between 15 to 45 minutes waiting for the late bus in last two months etc... She said she understood then hung up on me. I'm deeply offended by the treatment I received from 311 customer service, it was my first call to 311 and was surprised by this. If you want to improve the satisfaction rate, DON'T ever hang up on them. I was being nice and reasonable, why hung up on me? The call was less than 5 minutes, I tried to figure out why they hung me up.

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  4. Dear Mr. and Mrs. Campbell,

    Thank you for taking the time to let us know about the unsatisfactory experience you had when you recently called 311 to report a no-show Ride On Bus.

    I apologize that you did not receive the excellent customer service we expect our Customer Service Representatives to provide. She was confused on the handling of a video relay call and discontinued the call too early. Her supervisor spoke to her to clarify our process. The service request # 1124171003 that she created has been handled by a Transit Depot supervisor who noted that Route 52 was missed that day due a shortage in personnel. I hope you will give us another chance the next time you need information on a County program or would like to make a request for service.

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  5. This is cool. How I report rat in park on the blog?

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  6. Mr. Lacefield, thank you for your public service. 311 is a great service and I hope it continues to improve and thrive. What are the County's plans for a mobile app? Hopefully one similar to the District's (http://ouc.dc.gov/page/dc-311-smartphone-app) will be released soon. Please advise, and thank you.

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    1. Thanks. Yes, we have made it easier for our residents. Just go to mc311.com on your smart phone and it takes you to the mobile version of the 311 web portal automatically -- where you can search general information yourself and even send in service requests. No need to even download (or update) an app.

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  7. I'll never waste my time calling 311 again. I've both called in and used the web page to ask questions. All I get is someone who is poorly trained or doesn't know anything about the subject issue. At best they tell me I can "try" calling another number (which is a guess on their part). And of course the status of the service request ALWAYS says "closed and complete". So I guess the stats for 311 look great, despite lousy service.

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    1. Thank you for your feedback. If the 311 service did not meet your expectations, I apologize.I did pull up our records and it seems that you have contacted us about downed tree limbs, electronic payments, and other issues. Our call-takers are well-trained and strive to provide quality service. Nevertheless, if there is a problem we want to know and we follow up. Any problem is one problem too many in my book.

      As for service requests being "closed," that is only supposed to happen when a department has completed the work. Early in 311's existence, departments sometimes closed them prematurely, when they had added them to their list to do, rather than when they were completed. 311 has worked with departments and, now, that happens much less frequently.

      As for stats, our satisfaction surveys -- which run upwards of 80 percent -- are based on answers from 311 users, not on 311 statistics.

      I would be happy to chat with you in more detail if you want to talk. Again, thanks for the feedback. I want to hear it all.

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  8. For some reason our yard clippings were not picked up on our regular collection day October 30, despite being set out the night before. Our zip code is 20910. We have more clippings this weekend. How can we be sure they are collected on the next scheduled collection day?

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    1. Thanks for your message. Either send me your address or call 311 to give them your information. Sorry for the miss.

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  9. While we appreciate the plowing of our street, I cannot understand why the plow operator felt the need to leave large boulders of snow in front of residents' driveways or a large wall of compact snow and ice blocking access to our mailbox. Our street has plenty of room for piling the snow where it will be less inconvenient.

    Steven Thornberry
    11216 Knolltop View Court
    Germantown 20876

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    1. Thanks for your comment and sorry about the snow and Ice. I have asked Highways Services to address this.

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  10. How do I submit a question to 311 via the web? I don't see where to do this on the 311 home page.

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    1. Thanks for your question. Go to the search box on the upper right corner of the web portal (www.mc311.com) and type in a key word or words. That will take you to the knowledge-based articles with information on your issue.

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  11. I called 311 twice to report broken bollards on my street. Apparently the first time the call was not recorded. The second time, the person on the phone did not understand what a bollard was. I spent awhile explaining it to her, but I don't think she ever understood. The next day (today) I received an email that the service request is "completed" and the Status is "closed." The service request was not completed, and the status should remain open until the bollards are repaired and replaced, Thanks. The service request no. is 1178200926. Please change the status to open and please have these bollards repaired. Thank you.

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    1. Thank you for your comment. Yes, the service request should remain open until the work is done. We are following up with Highway Services to ensure completion. I have to admit, though, that I had to pull my dictionary off the shelf to look up the word “bollard.” Now I know!

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  12. Hello, I found the snow plow info I needed on the county website but before that, I called mc311 to ask my question, and after pressing # to reach someone the recording basically said we're busy, try back later, and it hung up on me. So my first question is, really? Is that the level of service my tax dollars are paying for, that I call the county and get hung up on by a machine? My other question is, in the single entry posted on this 'blog' you write that most service requests can be handled through the mc311 portal. I looked for quite a while and did not find any link whatsoever to send a county request via the mc311 website. A search on words such as 'submit,' 'request,' and 'email' turned up nothing. If that claim is true, shouldn't the link be obvious?

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    1. Mr. Lynn, unfortunately, on Friday morning MC311 experienced technical issues that impacted us for a couple of hours. It is back up now. I apologize for the inconvenience. To create and send a service request online, please visit www.mc311.com and enter a key word that describes your issue into the Search box. Again, we apologize for the inconvenience and hope you will try again.

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  13. I seem to have the same question as others who came here, and there is not a straight answer which is frustrating. Telling someone to search for a KB is not a good answer. It seems to me that there needs to be a general catch-all request form/link on the home page. I tried searching, and did not find the "right" place for my request. Sure, I can call during the week instead, but then what is the value of coming to this site? My request is simple: There have been orange flags duct taped to the stop signs at both ends of Rimrock Rd since last year's leaf collection. Who needs to come remove these? THANKS!

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    1. Thanks for your comment. I agree with you that there ought to be a way to send in something that “falls between” the established KBAs in the search box. Let me work on that. In the interim, I have forwarded your “orange flags” request to our Department of Transportation.

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  14. Thank you for forwarding, but how long should we wait to declare this "process" a failure? Who exactly did you forward this to? Please give me the specifics so I may follow-up. Thanks.

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    1. Thanks. You can call Susan Payne in the Department of Transportation at 240-777-7196.

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  15. I'd like to report a clogged cement pipe. It takes rainwater under our street.

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    1. Please provide the exact location of the clogged pipe and we will submit a Service Request. Thank you for bringing this to our attention.

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  16. Could someone explain the logic of putting a big "Your Speed" unit in the middle of Tuckerman Road between Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road, which starts hysterically flashing in BIG RED NUMBERS when drivers are going well under the posted speed limit? The speed limit is clearly posted 40 MPH, but the unit starts flashing red as soon as a driver reaches 31 MPH - 9 miles per hour slower than the limit. This is a huge distraction, as drivers slow down even further as they try to figure out what they're doing wrong. What's up with that?

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    1. Thank you for taking the time to email your concerns about the electronic sign board located at Tuckerman Road between Rockville Pike and Old Georgetown Road in Bethesda. That sign was placed there by officers in the Montgomery County Police Traffic Division due to numerous complaints from community members about speeding in that area. After the receipt of your email, the sign was checked and found to be electronically malfunctioning. It should not flash unless a vehicle is traveling faster than the posted 40 miles per hour. Officers were able to fix the problem on May 30. Again, thank you so much for bringing the situation to our attention and please continue to drive safely!

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  17. Over fifteen years ago at the Rockville Metro station my neighborhood civic association (ERCA) was promised by a Ride-On customer service representative, in-person, that a badly damaged, graffiti covered Bus Information sign on the East side of the Rockville Metro station would be taken down; yes you read that correctly fifteen years. We are still waiting for that PROMISE to be fulfilled by Ride-On.
    Recently I have tried using the on-line service request form at the MC311 web site. My original service request was opened on 8/27/2013 (#1158715095). It was subsequently closed and noted that the problem was taken care of; it wasn’t. On 3/17/2104 I made a follow up call and asked that the service request be reopened since NO WORK WAS DONE. I was also promised a phone call by a “supervisor”; I never got that call.
    Today, 6/9/14, I called 311 and gave my story and a new ticket was opened #1204528643. I was firm and as president of the civic association volunteered to meet a Ride-On rep at the Rockville station to show them exactly what we are talking about and again left my phone number (I won’t hold my breath for a call).
    For the record - the 311 service just like WMATA’s customer service has the exact same problem – there is no follow up; the loop is not closed. No one checks back with the CUSTOMER to see if the requested work was actually done AND if the customer is satisfied; service requests are just closed and the customer IS NEVER CONTACTED AGAIN. That is NOT “customer service”.
    So I have my new service request (#1204528643), I vented firmly but nicely with the 311 operator now let’s see if anything gets done.
    If anyone is interested I have pictures of the disgraceful sign that is representing Ride-On; makes them look like a 4th world operation to anyone visiting the Rockville Metro Station. Just send an email to president.erca@gmail.com
    Thank you for listening.
    Chas Hausheer, current president of ERCA

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    1. Thank you for your email – and your patience. We have followed up with DOT. These display cases were installed by Ride On long ago on WMATA property. DOT has now removed the broken plexiglass and all the old schedules. Rather than pull them up, Ride On is looking to update them and use them for Ride On information. Your service request should not have been closed by the department unless the work was done. Hopefully, now, the situation will be rectified.

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