New 311 call routing system to connect callers with agents

July 18, 2023
A smiling 311 agent helping a caller

311 callers are about to experience a new, better and more equitable interactive voice system. The launch date is planned for July 19. Regular callers to 311 and new callers should find the new system easy to use, quick and helpful.

The system will direct callers to agents trained on their request while freeing up more time for agents to speak with callers. With language options for English, Spanish, Somali and Hmong, the new system will make it easier for people to connect in a variety of languages.

Starting Wednesday, callers to Minneapolis 311 will hear this greeting: “Thank you for calling Minneapolis 311. To continue this call in English, say ‘English’ or press 1. [In Spanish] For Spanish, say ‘Spanish’ or press 2. [In Somali] For Somali, press 3. [In Hmong] For Hmong, press 4.”

Callers choosing English or Spanish will then be asked to say what they need help with. The new system will use speech recognition to connect them with the best person to help.

Callers who choose Somali or Hmong will get a menu of touch-tone options. These options will help connect them more quickly to the right person.

Online reports

If a caller needs help with making a report, for example about graffiti or fireworks or certain police reports, 311’s new system will explain how to do it online. This will help customers outside of call hours, when no live agents are available, and will also free up capacity during call hours if customers choose to make their report online.

With this new interactive voice system, the City expects to:

  • Make it easier for callers to get the help they need quickly.
  • Speed up the time callers spend on hold.
  • Help more callers before they hang up without having their call answered.

For even faster service

  • Using touch tone for the language option is faster than saying the language.
  • Calling from a quiet place or avoiding speaker phone helps keep background noise down.
  • Enunciating helps the system recognize key words faster.
  • Using short but meaningful phrases helps the system direct the request. For example, “I need to get a license for my new puppy” might be too long, but “license” could mean business license or rental license. “License for my dog” or “pet license” will put the caller in the right queue.

If the system doesn’t understand the caller’s phrase, the caller will hear: “Sorry. I didn’t get that. Please tell us how we can help you today. For example, you could say ‘parking violation,’ ‘pet license,’ ‘report graffiti,’ or ‘impound lot.’” If the phrase isn’t recognized after two attempts, the call will go to the general queue where agents are trained to answer all calls.

311 will continue monitoring phrases and words to keep making improvements.

About 311

311 is the point of contact for all non-emergency information and service requests.

More information about Minneapolis 311 is on the City website.