A city’s decision makers may not always consider its answering service to be a top priority. However, with City Hall acting as a central information hub for any number of political, legal, economic or social issues, being able to successfully field the concerns of a city’s residents is actually of the utmost importance for a city’s decision makers.
This issue came up in the news recently as members of the Fernley City Council in Fernley, Nevada, are recognizing their city’s answering service is not performing its duties properly.
According to a report in the Reno Gazette-Journal, a Nevada news source, even Don Parsons, one of Fernley City’s councilman, is having difficulty navigating the city’s third-party answering service to find the information he looks for on a regular basis. He says that he had to answer a series of questions for multiple minutes before being forwarded to the appropriate voicemail, and even then, the report mentions he never received a call back.
As such, Parsons is suggesting that the city’s calls could be processed internally because the third-party service is causing Fernley to misuse resources.
The report states that Interim City Manager Fred Turnier is willing to try an alternative to their existing customer service formula.
While one such alternative could be managing all the city’s calls internally, this measure could put a major strain on the city’s budget, as it would have to pay the salaries and benefits of new full-time staff members – a marked increase to the $9,600 budget for the current answering service.
As such, a more viable long-term solution for the city may be to deploy the services of a more reliable third-party answering service. While Fernley’s current system may not be effective, a more experienced answering service could field customer concerns every hour of every day via phone calls, the internet, text messaging or fax. Such a service could record calls and send them to clients in emergency situations or otherwise relay message summaries as soon as the call is placed.
It would therefore behoove city officials to research the most viable third-party solutions for answering services rather than increasing in-house staff burdens by handling it internally.