City officials this week announced changes to Evanston’s 311 operating procedures designed to reduce annoyances for people who call the service.

Erica Storlie, the city’s interim community engagement director, said the lengthy opening message that told people that if they actually meant to dial the 911 emergency number they should hang up and dial again has been replaced.

Now the opening message simply says: “Evanston 311. Your call may be recorded.”

And operators have been told to stop insisting on trying to persuade callers who ask for a specific person to let the 311 operator “help them” instead.

Now the operators are instructed to just put the call through to the person who the caller asked for.

Storlie says those changes, among others, may help reduce the number of callers who hang up before an operator can get to them.

The dropped calls now amount to about 8 percent of the total calls received.

In addition to performing telephone-switchboard like functions, the call center also handles requests for various city services.

Storlie says service requests are increasing rapidly. The service went into operation March 1, and compared to the first three months of operation, service request volume in the second three months, ending in August, was up 63 percent, to 7,408 requests.

Bill Smith is the editor and publisher of Evanston Now.

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