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Council Receives MC311 Report

The Montgomery County Council received a report from the Office of Legislative Oversight (OLO) that examines preferred languages other than English requested of the County’s MC311 centralized call center. The report states that there was little difference in the length of time to address requests where the caller selected to speak with a Spanish-speaking customer service representative versus other calls.

The report, entitled An Examination of MC311 Calls by Preferred Language, is tentatively scheduled to be reviewed during a worksession of the Council’s Government Operations and Fiscal Policy Committee Monday, March 10. The report is one in a series of OLO projects in Fiscal Year 2014 intended to enhance the Council’s awareness of cultural competency issues.

The report is available from the OLO website at: .

OLO compared the characteristics of calls from Spanish speakers with those of other calls in categories including talk time, hold time and work completion time after the call. The data show that hold times and after call work times were similar among calls where the caller selected to speak with a Spanish-speaking customer service representative (CSR) versus other regular calls, but that for Spanish calls, talk times were about 40 seconds longer on average than other calls.

OLO found that the percentages of calls with a preferred language of Spanish varied significantly across different departments and call topics. With respect to the length of time it took to close service requests, no significant differences were found between calls where the caller requested to speak in Spanish and other calls.

The report reviews the County’s efforts to ensure that individuals with limited-English proficiency (LEP) have equal access to County services via MC311, the County’s integrated Customer Service Center for non-emergency information and services.

According to data from the U.S. Census Bureau, there are 926,231 people in Montgomery County. Of these, 61 percent (564,386) speak only English at home. Fifteen percent of individuals speak English less than “very well,” and in 7 percent of households, no person in the household age 14 or older speaks English “very well.”

Individuals with limited English proficiency have two options for communicating with MC311 CSRs. They can select to speak with a Spanish-speaking CSR at the beginning of their call or they can communicate with a CSR using a telephone interpretation service (more than 150 languages available).

During 2012-13, MC311 received more than 950,000 calls. The data show that of the approximate 40,000 calls per month, About 1,590 calls per month (4 percent of all calls) were from callers requesting to speak with a Spanish-speaking representative, and 150 calls per month were from Spanish speakers who used the telephone interpretation service. On average, 18 calls per month required interpretation for languages other than Spanish.

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