311 Toronto offers service in almost 200 languages, through a telephone interpretation service. In the past year, this service was used during 2,684 calls to interpret 38 different languages. The most frequently translated languages were Cantonese, Mandarin, Italian, Portuguese and Spanish.
Since launching a year ago, 311 Toronto has received a total of 71,061 e-mails. The number of e-mails received per day has significantly increased over the year since launch as residents embrace this method of reaching the City. 311's online service has also been growing and the City currently receives about one per cent of all service requests online. There are now more than 25 self-service requests that can be made online at http://www.toronto.ca/311 - and that number continues to grow.
In addition to the growing list of online service requests, 311 expanded its operation in May to include service requests for Municipal Licensing and Standards (ML&S) and Urban Forestry. This means that along with Solid Waste, Water and Transportation requests, in most cases 311 customer service representatives are able to assist callers with service requests for these divisions without transferring the caller to another City staff person. These callers are also given a service tracking number so they may call back or go online to see the status of their request.
There were some peaks in service demand that had an impact on 311 Toronto's service levels. Regular occurrences like thunderstorms as well as unusual events like H1N1 vaccination clinics and the G20 Summit all caused spikes in call volumes to 311.
The City continues to remind callers that the 311 service is fully available 24 hours a day, seven days a week.
"Call volumes predictably spike every Monday morning as callers have waited all weekend to call in and report a service request or ask a question," said Neil Evans, 311 Director. "I would encourage people to call in as soon as they have a question or service request on the weekend, early in the morning or in the evening, when call volumes are lower and their wait time will be shorter."
Calls received are not without their interesting challenges. Over the year, 311's customer service representatives continued to encounter the unusual and curious request that was not easily covered in the enormous 311 knowledge base. One caller wondered if the City sells its emu eggs. There is an emu at the High Park zoo and no, the City does not sell its emu eggs.
Another interesting call came long-distance from the United States, during which the caller was interested in same sex marriages in Canada. The caller asked, "If I cross the border, am I in Canada?"
The City's patient and professional 311 customer service staff take all these unusual calls in stride and often remind callers 311 is there to provide information on City of Toronto services and programs.
Toronto's 311 service continues to be highly regarded by municipalities around the world. Delegations from as far away as South Africa and Iceland have come to Toronto to view our state-of-the art facility and technology systems.