3-1-1 Contact Centre

The 3-1-1 Contact Centre celebrates 10 years of customer service

The 3-1-1 Contact Centre is the gateway to City information, programs, and services for Vancouver residents, business owners, and visitors.

City Manager Sadhu Johnston

June 18 2019 –

This month marks the 10-year anniversary since the contact centre opened its 3-1-1 phone line and took its first call on June 15, 2009, providing Vancouver residents a single point-of-access to City information and non-emergency services.

Since that time, the City's customer service channels have grown to incorporate a wider range of technology and digital infrastructure in order to improve how residents engage with and access the City through online, mobile, and social media options. This includes adding interactive voice response; chat and web support; and a full suite of mobile apps including VanConnect, to respond to service requests.

VanConnect app

VanConnect was launched at the end of May 2015 to encourage residents and businesses to use this channel as a quick and easy way to connect with City Hall directly from their smartphone. To date there have been more than 57,000 app downloads and in 2019, the City is receiving about 1,050 service requests per week through the app covering all areas of the City's operations.

"The 3-1-1 Contact Centre is the gateway to City information, programs, and services for Vancouver residents, business owners and visitors," says City Manager Sadhu Johnston. "It has been a valuable resource for Vancouver residents over the past 10 years with dedicated and knowledgeable staff available every day of the year to provide a quality customer experience through multiple channels of communication."

More than 11.5 million interactions

In total over the past 10 years, there have been more than 11.5 million interactions across all contact centre channels. The preferred customer service channel for residents to connect with City Hall continues to be by phone with calls to 3-1-1 accounting for 7.75 million of the total number of interactions.

From pothole service requests to complaints about abandoned mattresses; reconnecting residents with their lost pets to tips on how to help conserve water, the staff at the 3-1-1 Contact Centre have heard it all.

Most frequent call topics or service requests

The top five most frequent call topics or service requests received in the 3-1-1 Contact Centre's 10-year history were about:

  1. Parking
  2. Building and development services
  3. Property tax
  4. Sanitation operations
  5. Parks and community centres

In June 2009, the 3-1-1 Contact Centre was staffed by 33 customer service representatives (CSRs) who received a total of 329,056 calls in the opening year. In 2018, the call centre received a total of 770,738 calls with peak periods during the summer being staffed by 48 CSRs responding to upwards of 4,000 daily.

Over the 10-year period the call centre has been in operation, the average wait time for callers to speak with a customer service representative has been one minute and one second. The average conversation lasts about four minutes and 18 seconds.

Open 365 days a year

The 3-1-1 Contact Centre is open from 7am to 10pm, 365 days a year with translation service in 175 languages.

While more than 99% of calls are handled in English, the top five most requested language translation service are for Cantonese, Mandarin, Korean, Vietnamese, and Punjabi.

A look back to the most interesting calls to 311

  • A citizen called in to suggest the City start a water conservation campaign with the following slogan: “When it’s yellow, let it mellow. If it’s brown flush it down”.
  • That one time someone called and despite only hearing the CSR’s voice said, “You sound so nice! Are you married? Because I have a daughter who is available, and I am getting the feeling she could be your soulmate.”
  • A contractor called in on the day he was going to demolish a building. He went in to check on things beforehand and saw a huge snake in the basement on the windowsill. The CSR asked if it was alive and the contractor quickly replied that he didn’t know and didn’t want to go near it to find out. Animal control was dispatched to the site.
  • One winter, a resident called to complain that the water piped into her home in the fall and winter months is too cold. The CSR explained that the pipes are underground, so this may affect the temperature. The resident than asked how this could be rectified, to which the CSR quickly replied she turn on her hot water tap at the same time.
  • One time a CSR received a call from someone asking the species of ducks that swim in Lost Lagoon at Stanley Park and if they are edible.