Since February of 2017, the city of Spokane has allowed you to call 311 when you're in the 509 area code and get all sorts of questions answered with the city. But using your voice over the phone, as everyone knows, is so passé. So on Monday, the city launched an online CHAT SERVICE.
"A lot of people prefer to chat rather than to be on the phone," says Carly Cortright, My Spokane Customer Service director.
It not only makes it easier for citizens to multitask while they're getting their questions answered, it gives the 311 employees flexibility when answering them. For example, Cortright says, a 311 employee can't exactly take a phone call while simultaneously occupying the front desk at City Hall. But they could answer questions on chat in the moments between their other duties.
Navigate to the city's website at myspokane.org and you'll see a little tab sticking out of the right side of the frame. Click on it, and it immediately brings up a chat window. We tested it out Tuesday, asking if the city knew why there were a whole bunch of no-parking signs zip-tied to trees in Browne's Addition over the weekend.
Within minutes, an operator named Sascha had set out to try to answer my question, contacting the permitting department and street departments — and sending out Parking Enforcement to see if there are any signs still up.
My question wasn't the only one: On Tuesday morning, Cortright says, one person wanted to know when the Skyride gondolas at Riverfront Park opened up. Others wanted to know where they could buy city golf passes or where they could complain about a person illegally camping in their RV.
"You leave feeling like your problem has been solved and you mattered," Cortright says.