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David Sims - TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist[March 28, 2005]

The City of Baltimore Improves Its Call Center

By David Sims, TMCnet CRM Alert Columnist

Mayor Martin OMalley is announcing the launch a new central intake call system for all city service requests that completes a recent push to provide more efficient, customer friendly government service to Baltimore residents.

Beginning today, city residents can access city services more quickly and easily than ever before. All services from scheduling a bulk trash pick up or repairing a pothole, to reporting a water main break or a streetlight outage are now just three numbers away from anywhere in the city, officials claim.

Over the past two years, through CitiStat, we have made Baltimores city government more accountable, more effective and more efficient, says Mayor OMalley. Starting this week, through CitiTrack and the 311 One-Call Center, were making government easier to use.

In his first State of the City address, Mayor OMalley unveiled plans for CitiStat, a data based management system built on accurate and timely intelligence, rapid deployment of resources, effective strategies and relentless follow-up. CitiStat has since become City Halls main tool of accountability. If CitiStat is the back-end of effective management of resources, CitiTrack and 311 are the front-end. Together, they are efficient, effective and accountable government, a press release claims.

Given the usual hyperbole to be expected whenever politicians praise their own accomplishments, its still a nice step forward for Baltimore residents. The 311 One Call Center uses CitiTrack, a customer relations management software system. CitiTrack is much like the CRM systems used by telephone and electric companies to not only deliver, but also measure how good their customer service is. And just as UPS or FedEx do with their packages, each citizen calling into 311 is given a tracking number so that it is tracked from the moment the request enters the system, all the way through abatement.

The center will use three shifts of trained customer service representatives 24-hours a day, 7-days a week. To ensure uniform service there are 300 preprogrammed service request types, covering most citizen needs. Each request type is scripted with a basic set of questions, which the citys customer service agents use to get accurate information and ensure uniform service. Requests are then routed directly to the field through the CitiTrack computer network for service. Finally, the request is sent to CitiStat, to ensure proper follow-up.

The 311 One Call Center is engineered for response to as many as 5,000 calls a day. With a state-of-the-art computer and telephony infrastructure with emergency backup facility power, the 75 member staff is trained to provide residents with the most accessible method to request services.

David Sims is contributing editor and CRM Alert columnist for TMCnet.

To discover how contact centers can save money and increase productivity by making the switch to IP Telephony, be sure to attend TMC's IP Contact Center Summit May 24-26, 2005, in Dallas, Texas.

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