The Georgetown Customer Care Department will launch a team dedicated to answering residents' questions about city services later this fall.

Georgetown is labeling this program as a 311-like service, meaning it will serve as a one-stop-shop for information about the city.

In a nutshell

The need for a 311-like service was solidified in 2022 when the city completed a survey asking residents how they want to interact with the city.

This survey showed the top five reasons residents contact the city are electric and water problems, garbage or recycling, 911 emergencies, non-emergency fire and police concerns, and public works needs, like traffic signals, roads and flooding, according to previous reporting from Community Impact.

Currently, these calls are handled by different departments. To seek information or ask assistance, residents have to navigate a web of 34 different phone numbers.

This new service will streamline the process, allowing citizens quick and easy access to a variety of information and services.

Implementation of the new system will divide the Customer Care Department into two teams. Consisting of six representatives, a supervisor and a manager, the 311-like team will streamline access to city services and help field calls from other departments as well as general utility questions, Customer Care Director Seth Gipson said during a presentation at the May 28 Georgetown City Council workshop. The other team will focus on more technical utility questions, Gipson said.

The specifics

Though the service is considered 311-like, the city discovered several issues with implementing a traditional 311 service, Gipson said.

There are service boundary limitations built into 311 services. During discussions with the city's service provider in late 2023, Gipson said, they realized the service would be restricted to city limits, which don't include the city's extraterritorial jurisdiction or align with utility boundaries.

Additionally, instead of a just having a 311 number, the city is taking an omnichannel approach, which would allow citizens to reach the city in a variety of ways like submitting a request via an online portal, by email, phone calls and mobile app. In the future, the Customer Care Department also hopes to offer additional contact methods through social media, text messages and chatbots.

The system will allow residents to track requests once they are submitted and get updates while they are being processed.

“The real conversation is maximizing the people you have,” Gipson said. “A lot of cities with an omnichannel approach have a [customer service representative] that has a call while at the same time they are working on chats. [An omnichannel approach] really maximizes the time people have, while also maintaining a work-life balance and quality.”

The Customer Care Department also identified hundreds of inquiries from 11 different departments ranging from Public Safety to Parks & Recreation in an effort to build a large FAQ section as a self-service resource. The department is currently recording answers to these inquiries and intends to build them into the system, Gipson said.

Stay tuned

The name and number for the service have yet to be announced. A name will be selected from a recently held internal naming contest that received over 300 entries, and a variety of numbers have been secured that could potentially be used, including 4311 or G311, Gipson said.

The department is currently negotiating with software companies while they select a system and train new hires. A soft launch is planned for October.