311 (the phone number, not the nineties alt-rock band), has always been a bit dubious. Many of us don't really know when or why to call it other than to report a pot hole or some other such urban mishap. Some people don't even know that 311 is useful for these issues, and some, believe it or not, don't even know that 311 exists, often resorting to 911 for all their complaints. Whichever camp you belong to, you may want to take note that at least one city is leveraging 311 to deal with utility issues and questions.
Provo, Utah residents can call 311 to ask questions about their utility services, business licensing, and to report non-emergencies in their neighborhood, Emilee Eagar of Desert News reports. This is because Provo's utility call center has basically moved into 311. The streaming helps meet resident’s needs and simplify the process of checking on utility matters. "The purpose is trying to eliminate calls to the specific departments and being able to call simplified, abbreviated dialing here so that we can answer and assist you," Karen Larsen, Provo's director of customer services, tells Desert News.
Residents have been quick to catch on to the spruced up 311 option. Rather than going through the roundabout of calling their electrical provider to handle inquiries, they're dialing 311. The Provo 311 call center receives roughly 500 calls a day, with about 90 percent of them pertaining to utilities. The other ten percent or so pertain to more traditional 311-oriented topics like requests for snow removal and reports of graffiti.
People on both sides of the equation are generally pleased. Ruth Bermudez, a customer service rep at the call center, says she likes her job and notes that the Provo residents she works with find the service helpful. Keen on growing, the call center is stretching beyond the phone lines, and now offers a walk-in facility that offers electronic fingerprinting, and other in-person services.
There are glitches however, that the Deseret News makes mention of, but does not explore. Apparently, some calls from Comcast (News - Alert) landline owners have been unable to access 311. But, "for the most part," Larsen says "311 dialing has worked great."
Edited by Cassandra Tucker