When the people of Spokane need help from their city government, they now know who to call. They can find resources for their neighborhood, get a new recycling cart or have a question about their water bill answered all by calling a single number and chatting with a friendly City employee who knows pretty much everything there is to know about living in Spokane.
This is all thanks to My Spokane 311, a one-stop customer service line for residents to find the help they need. Since launching in 2014, the service has evolved to now handle queries on just about all non-emergency issues around the City, lessening the impact of answering questions at the department staff level. For the people of Spokane, it’s a more efficient way to get answers and assistance.
“My Spokane 311 makes quality of life better. We all love our city and it has so much to offer, but we do have graffiti and litter and potholes that need to be reported,” says Carly Cortright, the My Spokane 311 Customer Service Experience Director. “One of the best things about Spokane is that people are engaged, and they don’t have to look at the graffiti and just say, dang it, I wish someone would do something. You can call 311.”
Cortright stresses that My Spokane 311 isn’t just about potholes or litter. The customer service agents on the other end of the line are the sort of people you’d want on a team at a Spokane trivia contest. They’re trained to know just about anything that might be asked — and if they don’t know, they’ll help find out.
For example, Cortright says a citizen might call asking if they can use a fire hydrant to fill their pool. Well, the My Spokane 311 representative knows the answer. It turns out, citizens actually can do that if they work with the Water Department. They also know the temperature of public pools and the PH levels of the City’s water (a frequent question from homebrewers). My Spokane 311 is still evolving. In October, Cortright’s team launched an app that allows people to post photos of, for example, a pothole on a nearby street so the City and other residents can see it.
“Our goal is to make government more accessible to all citizens. People don’t always know who’s supposed to help them, but that’s where we come in,” says Cortright.