The City of Toronto Upgrades Its Non-Emergency Service Communications

Learn how the City of Toronto reinvented its internal systems and improved how they communicate with their community.

The City of Toronto is committed to delivering a high quality of life for residents, businesses, and visitors, and relies on a relationship built on trust and confidence between the Toronto Public Service, Torontonians, and City Council. In Canada, Toronto 311 represents the front line for the City of Toronto. The team is responsible for managing expectations of the public, building relationships, and showing value and establishing trust with the city.

“Our division is really keen on serving our public the best that we can, seven days a week, 24 hours a day,” said Gary Yorke, Director 311, City of Toronto. “We've truly evolved to more than just that of an asset to really support people internally and externally through the city, and providing that frontline support.”


311 Toronto is the gateway to City information, programs, and services. Using modern approaches, dedicated and knowledgeable staff are available 24/7 to provide a quality customer experience through multiple channels of communication.

“It’s about the mission to not only provide service to the public, but to our staff. As a leader, we are more proud of the culture that we've established within 311 and the emotional connection that we have to our city,” said Yorke.


1. Connect residents to city services on a single platform.

“We serve anyone who visits, plays, and lives in the City of Toronto. Since covid, the dynamic of providing customer-centric consultation and comfort changed our focus within 311,” said Yorke.

The City of Toronto comprises 45 divisions, all which found themselves needing to digitize their services. The team needed a flexible system that allowed them to collaborate, share information or resources when it came down to staff and technology, and be able to report on how many touch points were coming in during the pandemic. It was imperative for the team to upgrade their systems to the cloud as they experienced high call volumes flooding their phone lines. Yorke and team took this as a call-to-action to not only live out their mission with their 311 call center, but to connect 311 to multiple communication channels.

Their vision of leadership in terms of changing the culture in how they communicate to the public was now their biggest priority. Toronto saw this as an opportunity to center their focus around the customer journey. “Digitizing our services is key and having a 360 view of the customer always shows data as a form of power,” said Abdi Osman, Senior Systems Integrator, City of Toronto. “We want our services to be accessible so that our customers can reach us no matter the avenue,” added Esther Nunes, 311 Operations Manager– Quality and Performance, City of Toronto. A lot of what the team was doing was through phone interactions, which was great, but they wanted to offer more. They acknowledged that having the options to submit service requests online or through an app, would be key for the team and would essentially increase service delivery.

Understanding customers' touch points in a single [CRM] solution will give the team the ability to follow up, do proactive communications, and free up their phone lines.


2. Serve residents faster with multichannel communication.

The team launched their 311 call center, integrating multiple divisions and digitizing service requests to deliver an omni-channel customer experience. With implementation support from Catalyst, the team expanded their modernization efforts and re-platformed its 311 services on the Salesforce Customer 360 Platform for Government, turning a server-based call center into a complete contact center. 311 Toronto knew they could offer more and stood up a cloud-based application pilot across the community that now supports a comprehensive set of communication channels while increasing visibility, reducing costs, and mitigating risk.

The new modernized platform now allows residents to:

1. Create and track service requests

The customer journey begins with a request for service through the 311 community portal via Experience Cloud. Toronto residents will first go through a series of intake questions to make sure they have met certain standard criteria before a request can be made. Once they've created and submitted their request, Service Cloud manages this information in a profile-like setting, giving the team better visibility to pertinent details and context. The team can enter notes, or enter status updates, and that filters back over to 311's technology to provide status updates to the customer.

Customers will then receive a confirmation number and information regarding the time it will take for that service to be completed. From there, they can track their requests from beginning to end using the 311 portal and mobile app. They can also opt in to receive real-time status updates about that service request on their mobile phones via email or SMS.

2. Find city service information

The team layered on Knowledge, giving residents access to general information about City programs and services, and generating a request if need be. Toronto residents can now search up to 5,000 plus knowledge articles agents use to find information whenever it’s needed. In addition to searching for information, residents can now directly connect to 311 Toronto through LiveChat, which empowers agents to answer more questions over the web, progressing cases faster. This gives citizens access to City information, while more advanced reporting will support data-driven decision making that boosts staff productivity and constituent satisfaction.

3. Explore their neighborhood

To explore whether someone else in the city has already requested the same service, residents can now view open requests by Exploring Your Neighborhood. It allows the community to find out if a pothole has already been reported, if a city tree requires pruning, or if a blocked catch basin has been called in using the mobile app. Using maps not only allows the city to view points of interest, such as civic centers, libraries, police stations and attractions, but allows residents to see other submitted requests throughout Toronto.

The deployment of Salesforce’s Social Studio enables the City to meet constituents where they are at and improve its ability to deliver customer service via social channels. “We're using this tool for proactive engagement with our customers and we're managing that directly through Salesforce,” said Osman. Tableau provides leadership, management, and specific resource teams with the ability to assess performance, spot patterns, and surface the kind of data driven insights that lead to faster service delivery.

The agile, open nature of the cloud made it easy to integrate mobile app inquiries, inquiries submitted over social channels, website submissions, and more.


3. Strengthen communities through digital innovation.

“In terms of the overall confidence of the solution and the ability to serve, it was clearly evident through our staff and through the public that we're on the right road,” said Yorke. The newly launched 311 Toronto mobile app has fully transformed and modernized the way residents connect with the City of Toronto. They now can do more on their own and when they want just by accessing 311 Toronto’s service channels.

“We're data-rich now, and we truly understand the transactions and interactions externally and internally throughout 311,'' said Yorke. With more information about citizen touch points, the team now has the context they need to send the right people resolving cases faster without sacrificing quality of service. As the team continues to build on their digital journey, they are already starting to see some noteworthy metrics, including:

Capacity and general performance metrics:

  • 600 services made available online
  • City programs and services on the site are now available in more than 180 languages
  • 500 interactions in the first 2 weeks post launch
  • 30,000 followers directly engaging through social media

Service delivery metrics:

  • 17% deflection in service requests
  • 34% increase in knowledge-based interactions
  • 100% of interactions are now captured
  • 1.3 million greater transactions



“Salesforce and the City of Toronto together have created that window behind the curtains to see what we can really do. And hopefully by doing that properly, we will earn the trust and confidence of the public and service them in a proactive way,” said Yorke.


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