Waiting on Los Angeles' 311
If you live in Los Angeles, California, seeking to report graffiti and illegal garbage dumping via 311, prepare yourself for a longer than usual wait time. The hotline had previously experienced four-minute hold times until Mayor Eric Garcetti took his position two years ago. He aimed to go back to basics leading to big things. But, that did not last long.
City Hall’s hotline reported an estimated six minute wait time for 311, fiscal year ending June 30. The first four months of the fiscal year saw hold times averaging over five minutes, a huge increase from the initial one minute when Mayor Garcetti came aboard.
The reason for the increase is due to operators aiming for FCR, avoiding call rerouting. Luckily, if callers do not choose to wait, there is an option for them to leave a number and receive a callback from an operator. Operating hours have also been extended to aid with the inundation of calls; unfortunately, additional staff has not been hired.
“Reducing hold times is an important priority,” Garcetti spokesman Alex Comisar said. “But improving 311 is also about making our service to each caller better. And it’s about expanding digital access so that Angelenos can get the answers they need, when and where they need them.”
Digital access has been implemented with the 311 app and website taking some of the burden off of call center agents. The union representing these operators still wants more staff to work as efficiently as possible. Teresa Sanchez, business representative, American Federation of State, County and Municipal Employees District Council 36, the union representing LA’s 311 operators understands the call center “chronic understaffing.”
“Even with an app or an email, you still need a person,” Sanchez said. “A person has to interpret the request. There’s just a depth of knowledge and judgment needed to respond to the request. “Our agents have a lot of city knowledge”
Edited by Maurice Nagle