Tuesday, April 22, 2008

Only 21% of Bostonians Know the Mayor's Constituent Service Phone Number

The results of the online poll are in regarding the phone number for delivery of constituent services to Boston residents, and the results are likely to raise a challenge to Mayor Thomas Menino's current constituent service hotline.

Bill Oates, the Chief Information Officer for the City of Boston, told the Boston Globe that "residents are comfortable with the mayor's long-established hot line."

Not so. An online poll held here at Brighton Centered over the last week-and-a-half shows that, among the well-wired readers of this website, only 21% knew the correct phone number of the "Mayor's 24-Hour Constituent Service Hotline": 617-635-4500.

A similar 21% of respondents seemed to think that the city already uses "311" for constituent services. The city doesn't, even though many think it should.

It looks like switching the current, poorly-known phone number to an easily-remembered "311" wouldn't cause much of a disruption because few people know the current number.

The city receives far fewer calls to their constituent service hotline than comparable cities with "311" service. This online poll demonstrates that the likely reason is that most people don't know what number to call.

A surprising 12% of respondents thought that they should call "911" to report a pothole to be filled. A major justification a decade ago for having a "311" service in Baltimore was to free up "911" from handling non-emergency calls, and this poll shows that the potential for misuse of "911" continues in Boston.

A substantial 17% of respondents thought of calling the Mayor's City Hall office directly with 617-635-4000 -- rather than his constituent service hotline -- while 6% would call Paul Holloway, the Allston-Brighton liaison in the Mayor's Office of Neighborhood Services (617-635-3485). Another 7% would call fictitious numbers (617-635-9311 and 888-3-BOSTON).

One of the "wrong" answers was actually a correct answer: 10% of respondents would bypass the Mayor's constituent service hotline by calling the Department of Public Works directly at 617-635-4900.

One commenter to a previous post here at Brighton Centered noted that he has the number saved on his cell phone, hence trying to remember the number might not be a good test; I should have included an option "I don't know because I've saved it on my phone already." I note, on the other hand, that I failed to provide an additional choice for respondents,"I have no idea", causing many people -- like my wife -- not to bother responding altogether. Note also that one of the links in the articles at Brighton Centered actually included the correct answer... so some people may have been tipped off. I predict that a more scientific poll of Boston residents would produce significantly fewer than 21% correct responses.

No comments: