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Sunday, August 05, 2007

311 Service "On Hold": You May Be Able To Measure The Budget Savings, But You Can't Measure The Loss Customer Satisfaction and Business

***** UPDATE *****
Thanks to Firefighter Brian Humphrey, who ZD met in Chambers during the Special Budget Meetings where he expressed his concerns over emergency service dispatch cuts, which now makes this story about "life or death", beyond mere "wasteful inconvinence".

Brian Humphrey said...

Thanks for bringing the issue of critical municipal 'touchpoints' to the forefront.

While I can't offer a formal opinion, the issue is clearly worthy of public discussion.

Please have a great day, and make it a safe one!

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

311 Service "On Hold": You May Be Able To Measure The Budget Savings, But You Can't Measure The Loss Customer Satisfaction and Business

Those of you familiar with the work of Dr. W. Edwards Deming, know that people (constituents) judge customer satisfaction by their standards, not yours.

I was reminded of this concept from his 14 points, after noticing an unacceptable increase in the “on hold” time while waiting to speak to a City Hall 311 operator service, one too many times.

The mind-numbingly long service delays happened to coincide with the mayor’s new budget cuts that went into effect during the first week of July. And I don’t need to look at the budget to know that 311 services were cut enough to cause a fatal flaw with the system.

I’m sure the mayor can tell you how much money was “saved” by this cut; but I wonder if anyone can take a guess at the actual “immeasurable” costs and expenses this decreased efficiency in service will have on the City?


I am here to tell you, when you call 311 during business hours, you will most likely be on hold for an unacceptable length of time that not even Zuma Dogg will sit through.

And people from City Hall may say, “Good! That means less people with their trivial problems to deal with.” Or, “Good, the mayor should cut that money – more for other important city services."

And it may surprise people, who know that ZD is a CM Parks-style fiscal conservative, but this level of service really backfires in the City’s face and the service must be funded to the extent that on-hold time is decreased, not increased to lengths that no one would be willing to sit through (without becoming “peeved” at the City).

Here’s why 311 is the first thing that should work in this City: If someone is calling, they are either doing business with the city, or are one of your constituents whom you will be turning to for a vote in the next election.

If they are doing business (and the City of L.A. prides itself as being an international friend to business in this regional and global economy), well I don’t think it makes a very good impression as to what to expect from the City the rest of the time. And telling them you had to make budget cuts isn’t an acceptable disclaimer. And if the city is the recipient of this business, or it is someone calling for the City’s benefit; don’t expect them to stay on hold as long as you are making them. [F-it! Let's just have it in Vegas!]

If they are a constituent calling with a problem, they are probably already frustrated. Well, imagine how they will feel about YOU (yes YOU elected officials) when they can’t even get through to express their concern. (They won’t be thinking, “Oh yeah, it’s cool, just must be those budget cuts that wouldn’t be necessary if City Hall didn’t suffer from ‘corruptivitice’ and ‘CWD/Chronic Waste Disease). They will only be pissed at the you and the City of Los Angeles.


Maybe this means installing more computers with the software to decrease the amount of time each human operator spends on the line (the way 411 and other operator/directory services work).

Something else that could help, that I know the City won’t want to hear, but the operators are asking too many unnecessary questions with callers during the process.

For one, they ask for the zip code. Now I know that the City wants that research so as to have a better idea of what areas are using the service, for whatever reasons. However, this increases the call time and prevents the operator from moving on more quickly and therefore handling more calls per hour. (Since the primary function of the service is effectively “broken”, there is no time for additional time-delaying processes like gathering market research that is not the purpose of service – as far as the caller is concerned.) A computer should be able to provide you with that information through a “caller id” style function. And if the info is blocked or restricted, maybe then the operator can ask IF it the information is critical, which it shouldn’t be in this case.

Another question is, “Would you like the number, or should I just connect you?” Just connect the call. The time it takes to ask the question, then read the number, only to be connected anyway; statistics might show it saves time and increases long-term efficiency, if they just call 311 next time too. (Because even if they write it down this time, doesn’t mean they will feel like looking it up, or will have it in front of them, next time.) Or, again, look to computers. Perhaps the operator can connect the caller to a computer generated operator who can read the number then automatically connect to the extension.

Could the 311 welcome message featuring the mayor, just go right into, “Please tell us where you would like to be connect to.” And then, if it was a request that couldn’t be connected through a computer generated prompt, and operator could jump on the line (with the info already on the screen, so as to not have to spend time asking the question and listening to the response from the caller). Airlines, 411 and various other similar services use this technology to improve efficiency and lower total cost.

It’s easy to measure how much you will save by making a budget cut like this. But City Hall must also realized the cost (amount of business and voters lost) by this type of “immeasurable” expense.

contact: zumadogg@gmail.com
zuma website
Make a Google alert for "Zuma Dogg" and get everything posted on all my blogs. Warning: It may be a few things a day.

Reference: W. Edwards Deming, "Out of the Crisis"



Anonymous Anonymous said:


August 05, 2007 3:17 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Do you know for a fact that 311 operator positions were cut? Maybe a polite letter to your CM will get results.

August 05, 2007 4:43 PM  

Blogger Los Angeles Fire Department said:


Thanks for bringing the issue of critical municipal 'touchpoints' to the forefront.

While I can't offer a formal opinion, the issue is clearly worthy of public discussion.

Please have a great day, and make it a safe one!

Respectfully Yours in Safety and Service,

Brian Humphrey
Public Service Officer
Los Angeles Fire Department

August 05, 2007 4:46 PM  

Blogger Zuma Dogg said:

I know for a fact that on-hold time is now regularly, if not always, insufferable and completely inappropriate and unacceptable, at the risk over sounding over dramatic. To the degree in which you feel this is a serious concern is one issue. But make no mistake, the problem is real. Give it a try sometime at random from 9a-5p.

And the fact that it happened first week in July, when budget cuts kicked in were the tea leaves I read on that one. Maybe someone can confirm. But the issue is the broken service. And I suspect that may be the culprit. I hope you feel this thread was polite. I don't think it was combative in tone.

And Brian Humphrey! Nice to see your comment! Thank you for the time you spent with me before your presentation to the city over your concerns of the budget cuts to emergency operator services that I am now experiencing at the 311 level. OMGoodness...I FORGOT ABOUT THE REAL EMERGENCIES EVENTS THAT ARE AFFECTED!!! THESE ARE LIFE OR DEATH SITUATIONS!!!


August 05, 2007 5:32 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

When they know it's you, Zuma, they head for breaks with you on hold, hoping some other sucker will pick it up and have to deal with your inanity.

Don't be paranoid; it's real. They hate you as much as the rest of us do.

August 05, 2007 7:16 PM  

Blogger Zuma Dogg said:

7:16pm agandized dumb-ass...

The hold time is spent BEFORE operators answer asking where you would like to be connected. And I call from payphones and other people's phones and it happened starting first week in July. And it was just as bad this week, which reminded me.

Now what loser?

August 05, 2007 7:43 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

This post is worth repeating because you know what they say birds of a feather tend to flock together.......

At July 26, 2007 11:34 PM, Anonymous said...
What the blogger writing about Alicia Corona and Teresa Durate is trying to inform you about is that your tax money has been given to Alicia and Teresa to the tune of $1.5 Million Dollars to Purchase the former Rose Eye Clinic located in Lincoln Heights.

This is just one more example of the type of irresponsible and negligent development that occurs in highly ethnic communities such as Lincoln Heights.

These ladies are sweatshop owners that do not live in the area and have been able to convince the local city councilman Ed Reyes to support their venture. It is unfortunate because under the guise of bringing so called needed jobs to the community they have been given a variance by the city for a liquor license and gambling establishment to be built on this site which is directly across from Gates Elementary School, Lincoln High School and in back of it Little Flower pre-school and kindergarten. The gambling part consists of over 140 video arcade machines that will be fully operational during regular school hours. Fears are that the a local group claiming to be descendents of the local Native Americans will attempt to declare the site as a federally protected reservation because of the hieroglyphics rumored to be in a dynamited cave on a hill behind the project and thereby utilizing the approval of the gambling variance as a precedent to establishing a full blown casino adjacent to these schools.

The community has been fighting back, but it has been unable since the unethical involvement from USC's Institute of Genetic Medicine’s through Lyn Crandel and David Galaviz in carrying out a coup to take over the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council. Incidentally it seems that David Galaviz is even more unethical then first thought. Information has it that he is married to M. Teresa Villegas, a Mayor Villar’s appointee to the Environmental Affairs Commission. (Villegas served as an Executive Fellow for the California Air Resources Board with funding from the Hewlett Foundation. She developed recommendations for improvements to the State’s Environmental Justice Program, all of which were approved by the Air Resources Board. Ms. Villegas previously served as Legislative Director for the Trust for Public Land in Sacramento. She is currently a public policy consultant for local governments and the Trust for Public Land. She also serves as a Board Member for the Planning and Conservation League, a statewide environmental advocacy group. Board of Directors of the Land Trust Alliance)

It has been 2 years since the Lincoln Heights Neighborhood Council has had an election. Why would David Galaviz, for that matter anybody in City Government, want to have elections when they have conflict of interest influence on the Neighborhood Councils.

Getting back to Alicia's and Teresa project, remember the $1.5 million grant was just to purchase the property. On top of this they will also receive an estimated amount of an additional $5 million dollars of your taxes for building and tax credits for next five years to hire so-called marginalized workforce. This is just another farce by the politicians to give away your hard earned money.

Other projects that are occurring in Lincoln Heights is the building of 37 Low Income Units on a former EPA site on Sichel Street, under the 1805 Sichel LLC, headed by none other that City Housing Panelist John Huskey of Meta Housing. In this case the entire project is being funded 50% tax payer money and 50% from Wells Fargo. What a sweet deal. Can you ever imagine that someone in the Barrio could get this kind of funding, forget it you would have to be very well connected and you and your employees have to be generous donors to the illustrious sell out Latino Politicians?

More recently it was made known that a certain group of developers are planning to develop one of the largest parcels of open space in the City. Approximately 30 acres on a hill behind Lincoln High Schools Athletic Field, owned by Mee Yin Corp will have a gated community of 387 - million dollar homes. 15 acres will be for the housing and 15 acres of property will be donated to the Santa Monica Mountain Conservancy. You say this is okay, think again. All land set aside for open space should be given to the City for Park Land that way it should never ever be used for anything but parks. But the game currently being played now is for non-profits such as the Conservancy to get the Land and then after a period of time they will also get rid of some of this Land for Development. The game is called Land Banking through the use of non-profits.

For those still interested in what is going on in our community you might also find it interesting that Mee Yin Corp is represented by City Lobbyist Steve Afriat, a former City Animal Regulation Commissioner who has represented the interest of Strip Club and Gay Bathhouse Owners in the City of Los Angeles. Steve Afriat is no light weight; a google search of him will give you an enormous amount of information of his dealings with former Councilmen Art Snyder, Richard Alatorre and Mike Hernandez. It would seem that if you want to win a city council seat you need Steve Afriat’s blessings and money sources.

How unfortunate that Lincoln Heights a founding member of the Chicano Movement in the late 60’s and 70’s is being converted into a cesspool of political misrepresentation, graft, unethical activity and corruption.

August 05, 2007 8:12 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Oh, no: the idiot is posting his entire Zumatimes rants here now, since no one is reading them there.
Complete with throwing in Deming or Tony Robbins or Sun Tzu or some other populist philosopher he can't even understand, to "validate" each post.

Help, Antonio Watch!!! HELP!!!

August 05, 2007 11:42 PM  

Blogger Zuma Dogg said:


What entire zumatimes.com rants? I hope you don't mean this thread? I typed it today into the mayor sam blog and it isn't posted anywhere else. (On any ZD blog or zumatimes.com. Only here...and I typed it off the top of my head into the blog dashboard!?!?! WTF? Man, do you suffer from distortions and deletions that filters your perception of reality and cause you to be so wrong, so publicly, 100% of the time. YOU DON'T EVEN ACIDENTIALLY GET IT RIGHT JUST ON PERCENTAGES. You are the Murphy's Law loser of bloggers. I hope you are not in a position where you have to evaluate research and statistics.

August 05, 2007 11:59 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Stop deleting my comments you insecure little wimp loser.

The readers can decide if my calling yuo a smelly, inane, bald loser is appropriate or not.

All you do is show us all what an insecure little slut you are at heart.

Go suck your thumb and call Mommy.

August 06, 2007 7:46 PM  

Anonymous Anonymous said:

Can you tell the city to change that horrible music on hold? I don't care for whatever kind of music that is. Is that music? I want to throw up when I hear it.

August 07, 2007 7:49 AM  

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