Answering Citizens’ Needs

“Thank you for calling the City of Edmonton, Lisa speaking, how may I help you?”

The line flows naturally as 311 Agent Lisa Saffin answers the phone. It’s early on a Monday morning, but that doesn’t stop her from having a cheerful tone as she helps citizens with everything from ETS schedules to property taxes, even answering questions as specific as the temperature of the City’s swimming pools. She takes pride in her work, and makes navigating some of the complex requests she receives look easy.

“I love letting citizens know about the number of tools they have available to them, and how easy it is to use City services,” she says.

Lisa is just one of over 150 staff members who answer phones at the City’s 311 Call Centre. They’re a team dedicated to excellence in customer service – a commitment that is clearly working based on the centre’s recent customer satisfaction results, where a whopping 91% of Edmontonians indicated they were happy with the service.

“I am extremely proud of our team’s work in providing such great service to Edmontonians,” says Maria Schrijvers, 311 Director. “91% which is a  4% increase from the previous year is a great achievement.  These results show the consistent dedication of our team to service excellence and that we’re doing a great job of responding to citizens’ needs.”

The results for the 2016 survey, which was completed between October 7 and November 10, 2016, were overwhelmingly positive. Respondents indicated they were happy with the convenience provided by the 311 Call Centre, with 98% saying they were satisfied with the ease of contacting the City, while Call Centre agents were also ranked highly for their courtesy and professionalism, with a 97% satisfaction rate.

Professional and courteous is exactly the manner in which Lisa manages each call. She smoothly navigates requests and encourages each caller to find what they need using, or through the 311 app. If she isn’t able to provide exact answers, she finds someone who can. She’s the first point of contact in a one city effort to serve citizens.

“My job is to provide citizens with the best information I can, and if I don’t have a specific answer, I’m here to connect them with the best people to answer their questions,” she says.

At the end of the day, Lisa’s empathetic approach is key to her success in this role. She understands that some citizens rely heavily on 311’s services – especially seniors.

“I can really relate to how people are feeling and what they’re going through – we’ve all had moments where we need some support,” says Lisa. “Citizens really appreciate that you take the time to help them out, even if it only takes a couple of minutes.”