If you haven’t already heard, when you have a problem or question about Charlotte or Mecklenburg services, it’s best to call 311. CharMeck 311 is the region’s customer service line to have your city service questions answered and assessed. 311 was introduced to the area almost 20 years ago in 2005 as a consolidation of services. Before, residents were directed to contact services and utilities separately to have issues resolved. Since then, 311 has received tens of millions of calls that range from tax questions to water issues, animal control, and more. They even get out into the community for in person events to answer your questions! They have a standing engagement at your local libraries if you would like to speak to them in person.
You may wonder, how does an agent get information for a caller at the drop of a hat? Surely they don’t just know all the information off the top of their heads? Agents are trained to use an application the city calls Emerald. It is essentially an internal search engine with which agents are trained to look up keywords to find solutions to questions quickly. Emerald is kept up to date with current city projects and programs so the information you get is current and reliable.
Customer service representatives are trained to handle different types of requests, with the most senior representatives trained to handle any type of call that comes in. The agents are masters of multitasking by providing service to callers via phone or online and inputting information and requests through a myriad of forms. In this role, many agents become extremely well versed in a variety of city subject matters and some even move to different departments in the city as incredible assets to their new teams with their wealth of city knowledge.
To maintain consistent quality over time with new agents being hired, 311 commits exceptional effort to training and quality control. Regina Peralta, a Quality Assurance Analyst at 311, offered the insight that 311 is unique as a call center as it is a public service rather than a traditional private company helpline. Agents receive calls from a wide audience of people that have a large variety of needs, and it is a tough job to be sure everyone is served with the same care and quality.
At 311, the agents live and thrive in the same communities they serve. Pictured above is Zekia Young. She’s been with 311 for over 18 years since 311 opened in 2005. I had the pleasure of sitting with her for an afternoon as she took calls and she handled each one with poise and professionalism. I asked her what she hopes for the public to know, and she said that she hopes that people understand that the team at 311 works hard every day to accurately satisfy the needs of the community.
To contact 311, you have a few options!
You may call the service center and speak to someone like Zekia from 7am-7pm Monday through Friday. You may also utilize an online chat feature to speak to a real human during those hours (trust me, I witnessed it myself).
Otherwise, you may submit service requests online or via the CLT+ app. For more information, visit the 311 contact page.