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News : Kitchener Improves its Customer Service with 24/7 Call Centre
KITCHENER, Nov 26, 2013 -- There's a rule in business — the customer is king.
Whether it's a hungry patron at a fast-food joint or a taxpayer at city hall, the adage holds true.
That's why the city of Kitchener is looking to improve the ways in which it interacts with its customers, whether they're calling to report a pothole or trying to figure out how tall their fence can be.
There are a couple of new initiatives — expanding call centre hours and launching a mobile app — that are in the works.
"Customer service is everything to my mind," Mayor Carl Zehr said Monday at a meeting of the planning and strategic initiatives committee.
Beginning in January, the city will begin staffing its call centre around the clock. Currently, residents will find an operator at the Corporate Contact Centre, as it's known, from 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. Monday to Friday, and from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Saturdays.
The city also hopes to launch a mobile app called PingStreet that would provide real-time access to pertinent municipal information and services based on either the user's current location or the address they registered with.
The app could allow users to report potholes or graffiti by taking a photo, see up-to-the minute road closures in their area, browse a calendar of events and look at their garbage and recycling schedule.
It's currently being used by the city of Waterloo, and both Cambridge and regional government are implementing it.
On Monday, Kitchener councillors unanimously voted to purchase and implement the app. The decision still needs another round of council approval, which could come Dec. 9.
The largest component of the customer service strategy would be a new software system.
The system would manage customer requests far more efficiently and effectively than the "rudimentary" one currently in use, said deputy chief administrative officer Michael May.
The city has until the end of next year to decide whether to partner with the region on sharing the licence for the software system it currently uses. That could keep costs down, but it would still take considerable time to fully implement the system in Kitchener.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Wednesday, November 27, 2013