Fort Worth Working to Improve Customer Phone Service

City leaders hope to reduce the number of call centers to just one

Calling the City of Fort Worth isn't exactly easy, as city leaders say there are nine different call centers answering citizen questions and problems.

The City of Fort Worth is considering making one number for residents to call instead of nine different numbers for various services.

There is a call center, located at a city building on Columbus Trail, where calls for animal services, code and transportation and public works, among others, are answered. However, there are many smaller departments, like planning and development, where calls are answered by people also doing other jobs. 

"We just need to get those down to one easy number, one number you can remember," said Fort Worth Mayor Betsy Price.

Price has made it one of her missions to improve customer service in the city and getting down to one phone number is one of those goals.

In an effort to consolidate the numbers and various call centers into one, the Fort Worth City Council approved the hiring of Heights Consulting, LLC for $233,800 this week. 

The consulting group, which has experience in this kind of work, will spend up to next year analyzing Fort Worth's calling system and devising a plan to phase all the call centers into one.

Code Compliance Director Brandon Bennett is leading the city's effort. Bennett was forced, during the down economy, to consolidate the call centers into the one building.

"It was really the low hanging fruit, now we need to look at these other specialty departments and determine how we can best serve them through the call center and the public," Bennett said.

The goal is to improve citizen access to information, services and to report problems.

"There is no disagreement that a one number, one stop, one phone call getting people to the right agency is the way to go," Bennett said.

In addition to improving customer service, the mayor says the consolidation will improve efficiency and even save the city money.

"If you have five people maybe in a small department answering phones half the day, working half day, you take one out to answer phones all day and the others pick up that work and they've got more time to actually focus on what they're doing," the mayor said.

The transition down to that single number will take some time and the exact singular number hasn't been chosen just yet, but Mayor Price says it'll be worth the wait.

"It's kind of a no brainer," she said.

The consolidated call center could lead to the creation of a 3-1-1 system in the city, but that's not currently in the plans because it's too costly.

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