311 Training Team

Amber Nielsen

CharMeck 311 Header Graphic showing call center representatives with headsets on.

If you have called 311, you know that you can get the answer to almost any question you can come up with regarding local government and services. How do these teams know the answers? The secret is the 311 Training Team.

311 monitors call volume in order to hire new employees, so there are many onboarding groups throughout the year. The training team's goal is to cross train every Customer Service Representative within 18 months to be able to work in each "pod" or area. There are three pods: revenue, public safety, and generalist.

To be trained is an extensive process. For example, training for the revenue pod alone takes 10 weeks. This training covers knowing the answers to caller's questions, but also training on customer service. Some training is in person, and some has moved online. This thorough training helps callers to have the best possible experience when they call in.

Markesha Lewis is an original 311 Customer Service Representative from when 311 launched in 2005. She now leads the training team as the Training and Quality Assurance Manager. She works closely with Antonio Osbourne and Tiffany Dixon, who are 311 Training and Quality Assurance Analysts, both of whom have over a decade of experience with 311. This powerhouse team is responsible for training all customer service representatives using their extensive experience with 311.

Different life paths brought Ms. Lewis, Mr. Osbourne, and Ms. Dixon to 311, but ultimately, it was their desire to serve the community by working for the city that led them to this career path. Ms. Lewis appreciates the collaborative nature of this team and the environment of 311. Ms. Dixon loves the opportunity to give people the foundation and help that they need to succeed. Mr. Osbourne lists seeing the "lightbulb moment" as people understand what he is training him as his favorite part of his job.

The 311 team is a close-knit family who supports each other and works together. This is part of why everyone on the training team has stayed with 311 for so long. Prior to the pandemic, they were able to have cookouts, dance moments, potlucks and other opportunities to connect as individuals. While they miss some of these gatherings, they still view their fellow 311ers as family.

Another bond that this team has is their understanding of the impact of 311 on Charlotteans and city and county services. They echoed each other in their understanding of how 311 connects residents to numerous resources. By taking calls and answering questions, 311 takes the burden off other government departments and organizations that may not have the capacity to answer residents' questions.

Many 311 customer service representatives end up working elsewhere in the city because their deep understanding of how the city works. The 311 training team has created a gold standard training experience that is modeled for many other departments, as others recognize how well versed 311 customer service representatives are.

The next time you call 311 and they can answer your question or connect you with the correct office or service, you can thank Ms. Lewis, Ms. Dixon, and Mr. Osbourne for their thorough and complete training.