Newark opens line for citizen complaints

Newark opens line for citizen complaints
The city of Newark steps into the 20th century by implementing CRM (that’s citizen relationship management) software and a streamlined, centralized call center. The new call center will field questions from residents for everything from garbage collection to pothole repair — questions that often fall to the city’s overburdened 911 service.

The city of Newark unveiled a new phone hotline yesterday that is supposed to serve as a catch-all for complaints about graffiti, potholes, traffic signal problems and other city services.

The phone number — (973) 733-4311 — is modeled after similar non-emergency call lines that have been wildly popular in New York City and Baltimore. Newark officials hope this phone number and tracking system will give department directors a clear snapshot of strengths and weaknesses in city services.

“Today marks the day where we finally tell Newark citizens we care about what you say,” said James Bennett, the call center manager. “When you call, we will listen.”

More exciting, though, was this information I received from the company whose system the city implemented, QScend Technologies:

“Further, municipalities can offer a full-blown knowledge base and citizen self-help center through their websites, allowing citizens to access key information 24/7, not just when the call center is open,” said LeBeau. “If they don’t find the answer to their question using the knowledge base, they can then submit a form regarding their service request and that request is routed right to the responsible department.”

This would certainly be taking the program to the 21st century. Imagine submitting a complaint online about a pothole on McCarter Highway and not just getting that issue resolved, but getting an email or text message (or twitter?) to close the loop when the pothole is fixed!

Now THAT would be taking the concept to the next level, and sources say that web-based issue tracking is not only technically possible, but part of the next phase of this rollout.

Putting Newark ahead of the curve on services for residents — that’s the kind of thing that will continue to fuel investment in Newark.

Author: Ken Walker

Husband, Father, Newarker, PCA Elder, Business Analyst. In a glass case of emotion since 1978.

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