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Wednesday, January 16, 2019

Operators set up shop in City Hall lobby

Operators set up shop in City Hall lobby

“City operator. How may I transfer your call?” These words are spoken about 2,000 times a month by the city’s two operators who were recently moved from the City Clerk’s office area to the main lobby. Occupying the information desk, Switchboard Operators Terri Masterson and Geena LaRoche (now with the titles “Community Assistants”) will now not only answer the phone when people call the main number, but also assist visitors who walk into City Hall.

“We had an amazing group of volunteers who staffed the information desk for many years, but we wanted to increase the employee presence in our lobby and provide a high level of service to people who came into City Hall seeking help,” said Business Operations Coordinator Jen Prehn. “So we shifted the operator position from in the City Clerk’s area to the lobby information desk.”

LaRoche, who works part time with the Police Department, and Masterson answer calls to the main line, provide direction to people looking for help when they come into City Hall and also open the dock/receiving door for afternoon deliveries.

“It’s an increase in job responsibilities for them and makes the position more in line with our recreation center guest relation clerks,” said Prehn. “They’re very excited to help residents, contractors and visitors.”

“It has been a transition with the expanded job and new spot,” said LaRoche. “However, we’re excited to interact with and help more people.”

When someone calls the city’s main number they are initially given the option to transfer to certain departments like non-emergency police, the building department and other frequently called areas. If they press 0, they are transferred to the operator.

Masterson and LaRoche are able to answer questions and route calls based on their extensive knowledge about the city and its operations. They track and categorize every call that comes in and can frequently help people right away.

“Most of the calls we get fall into three main categories: non-emergency police services, financial questions and building/permit requests,” said LaRoche.

“We receive lots of calls when there is a water main break,” said Masterson. “One of the more unusual calls was when a guy called and said that a duck had gotten into his truck and needed help. I told him to leave the door open and wait for the duck to get out! I didn’t need to transfer him to Animal Control for that one.”

“Many times they are the first person residents talk to and they give a great first impression,” said Prehn.

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