Perspective from a 311 Contact Center Supervisor

Amber Nielsen

"My parents always taught me to treat people with respect. I've always had a knack for that. You talk to them in a decent tone and manner, and they calm down so that we can handle the situation," CharMeck311 supervisor Coretta Buggs said.

Coretta Buggs has a unique background coming into 311. She is a retired police officer from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. Her experience deescalating tense situations has proven useful when handling escalated calls. She is grateful for the opportunity she has to help people to feel heard and understood when they are in distress. She enjoys the challenge and also the connection that she builds with people.

Her experience as a police officer gives her a unique perspective on the importance of 311's role. Because 311 can handle non-emergency calls, the burden on 911 is lessened. This allows 911 dispatch to focus on true emergencies. She can clearly see the impact that 311 has on how all government services interconnect.

Ms. Buggs is a supervisor at 311. For each Contact Center team at CharMeck 311, there is a supervisor. This supervisor is responsible for taking escalated calls, running payroll for their team, scheduling trainings, and generally supervising and support their team. They help the entire call center run smoothly as they coordinate together and also work with each customer service representative.

Each team may have customer service representatives who are trained in different specialties. Ms. Buggs's team has three people currently in training: one that is trained in general information and public safety, one that is trained in revenue, and seven that are cross trained on everything.

People call 311 for almost anything you could imagine, she said. They call about renting a pavilion at the park, for directions, a lost dog, a water bill, a traffic light, an accident, they want to do business with the city, and the list goes on. "There is no city department that 311 doesn't have some kind of impact on," Ms. Buggs said.

One time that stands out in her memory is when 311 helped to set up the stay-at-home call center at the beginning of the pandemic. They worked with other government services teams to answer people's questions about how the pandemic affected them. Charlotteans could call in to ask questions about quarantine, COVID case rates, business closures, and other information that was changing constantly. She is grateful for that opportunity to be there for residents of Charlotte when they were experiencing unprecedented times.

"We had so much information coming in, and it was our job to make sure that accurate information was going out. Times like that remind me of the enormous impact of 311," Ms. Buggs shared.

She loves working at 311 and the impact she is able to have on the city. "You're taking on a little bit of everything, it's an information center. We affect so many departments. I have enjoyed my time here at 311."