Are you curious about the services and programs offered by the City of Greenville? Look no further than Greenville Cares, the city’s one-stop customer service center. Today we sit down with Renei Suarez, customer service supervisor with the City of Greenville, to learn all about how Greenville Cares can help you report an issue, submit a service request, or get information about city programs, services, and events. From pothole repairs to business permits and more, Greenville Cares is here to help you navigate all things Greenville.
Katy Smith: I’m Katy Smith with Greater Good Greenville, and if you’ve listened to this podcast for a while, you know that I like to see local government be effective in getting stuff done.
I bet that’s you too. And that’s why you’re listening. So you’ll be excited to learn about one of my favorite services of local government, Greenville Cares, the City of Greenville’s one-stop customer service center where folks can get information about city programs, services, and events. Report an issue or submit a City service request. On today’s episode, I’ll talk with Renei Suarez, customer service supervisor with the City of Greenville.
She’ll talk about all that Greenville Cares does for residents and visitors in the City of Greenville and many, many ways that you can reach out for information and help. After you listen, you’ll want to add 232 c a r e to your speed dial too.
Renee, . Thanks so much for being with me today to talk about one of my favorite services of the city of Greenville, Greenville Cares.
Renei Suarez: Thank you. We’re glad to be here. We’re excited to talk about Greenville Cares.
Katy Smith: For those people who have not yet called it and availed themselves of it, tell us what is Greenville Cares?
Renei Suarez: So Greenville Cares is the customer service line for the City of Greenville. So if you ever have any question or you’re sitting and you’re going, I wonder who I can contact in the city to help me with this. You can always just call us and we’ll help you figure it out and get you to that person or that department.
Katy Smith: It’s such a great service. What are the top reasons that people call Greenville Cares?
Renei Suarez: It varies. So a lot of people are calling cuz they wanna start a business or get a permit because they’re doing some work for their business or their home. Or they were driving and there’s a pothole and they have to report that or the street light’s out in their neighborhood. Literally any reason of anything that’s happening or they’re driving and they see there’s a political sign that hasn’t come out even though the elections are.
So that you can just, it’s a range of reasons why people call us and sometimes we get calls from other jurisdictions. So people are calling from Greenville County cuz they’re not sure where they live or where their business is. Cuz you hear Greenville, city of Greenville, Greenville County. But you know what, we get you to where you need to go for Greenville County too cuz we don’t say, oh that’s the county and figure it out.
We actually find the number and get you to that department too, and happily transfer. We just wanna make the experience pleasant and easy, cuz everybody, it’s overwhelming sometimes when you’re trying to get something that you need through the city or the county
Katy Smith: Yeah, that is really great customer service. And I have to say, I’m appreciative of the list of things people call about because sometimes I think, am I too frequent a caller, and am I calling for the right reasons? But to know that there’s a pothole, there’s a piece of something in the road.
Renei Suarez: And there’s never, cuz people are like, oh, I feel, foolish for calling, but it doesn’t, why just call us and we can tell you, eh, the city doesn’t handle that. Or let’s figure it out. Maybe they do. I mean, a lot right now with all the rains that we’ve had recently, there was a lot of storm water issues of ” oh, there’s all this water,” so. We just put it in the system and somebody from the stormwater department will come out, take a look. Let us know, and it doesn’t hurt for the city just to come out and say, yeah, that’s probably something the city should take care of, or that’s a private matter, but that’s where we’re here. Or we’ll help you figure it out
Katy Smith: How many calls do you get in a year, a month, whatever the right timeframe is?
Renei Suarez: A week, about 550. Yes. And again, they range, so sometimes it’s a straight, I’m calling for a permit and we’re just sending those calls straight to that department. But a lot of those calls are that we’re gonna take a little bit more time to figure out what it is that you need, and then there’s a service request that we will complete, that will follow up that phone call. And that’s what activates a, a service request that needs to get completed. And that’s how you know I’m calling cuz these tree limbs are over a sidewalk or this tree looks like it’s dying in front of my house. Is it in the right of way? And so we’ll put it in and somebody from that department, that service request will activate that and somebody from that department will come out and take a look.
So Of the calls that we’ve received over the last couple months, service calls received 2,194 in the last 60 days. So that means that that’s something that somebody’s gonna have to do something.
And of those calls we’ve closed out 96.9% and that sometimes is within the day, within the week. And every service request is gonna require a different attention. So some things are immediate and some things can be fixed in within a week. But they really work hard to make sure that everything is closed and that there is a resolution for any request that comes in through the city.
Katy Smith: That is outstanding. Anytime I have called, I’ve been so grateful, not just for someone at Greenville Cares to be in the know and send me to the right place, but the next layer of whoever the department person is I’ve spoken to has been so helpful and responsive
Renei Suarez: I don’t live in the city, but the services that the city provides and the level of care that different departments take and, and pride in their work is just incredible. And I’m not just saying that cuz I work for the city, but I just, it’s as a colleague too, that they sometimes tell me, don’t worry about it, just put it in, let us figure it out.
Yeah. And so even I get that from them, because I’m not an engineer and I’m not a tree technician, but they’re like, you know enough to know that yes, we need to move it on to the next level. But sometimes they go out and they’re like, yeah, everything is okay. We don’t really need to do anything at this time.
They’re like, don’t worry about it. Sometimes our colleagues are also getting great customer service from them, which then extends to the resident of the city.
Katy Smith: That’s so wonderful. So given that you get all these calls and you track them and put them in as requests, do those calls turn into data that helps the city with planning and decision making?
Renei Suarez: Absolutely. And it, it could be, you know, we’re getting a lot of calls about this one street and there’s a lot of speeding in the street. Those calls also come to us and we can track it and helps the police and then eventually like traffic engineering or engineering department determine well, do we need to get speed humps?
Which is something that.. If you are in a neighborhood and you say maybe there’s too much speeding going on here. That’s a traffic calming study. Again with the storm water, the environmental engineers maybe will come out and just assess.
And I would tell people in the residents of the city to go on our website and just play around because it provides so much information for the residents. You know, newcomer information, there’s housing in neighborhoods, neighborhood infrastructure, and you can actually see what the city is doing currently to make your neighborhood a better place.
Our website is worked on constantly. We have a great team. Each department works on it, so it’s very current and it’s a great resource. And so a lot of the times even people will call us and we’re searching our own website to get information. So it’s a really great tool and I would even suggest that anybody, if you’re just curious, get on there and you’ll see the amount of information that we have about what’s going on in the city.
Katy Smith: That’s really great. I love that there’s, if you’re at a desk, you’re on your phone and you are, can safely look, you can find the answers. I also appreciate that when I’m driving down the street, which is when these things hit me, and I know they will be forgotten by the time I pull in my driveway, I can tell Siri to call 2 32 Care
I get it taken care of.
Renei Suarez: And now you can text us at that number too.
So if you’re out for a walk and you see something, you can take a picture and text it to us.
Yes. And it’s wonderful. It’s actually, it’s, it’s because it actually can see what’s going on, what the problem is, and it helps us a little bit even to assess oh yeah, that we definitely need to get somebody out there.
So you, same number, you don’t even need to dial a different number. So 8 6 4 2 3 2 2 2 7 3 it goes straight to our email and we can respond right away.
Katy Smith: That is outstanding. All right. What’s hitting me is that is the next door app, which I, I have say, I avoid. This seems to be a more useful way to send your pictures and make your statements to the people who can actually make a difference.
Renei Suarez: Cuz it goes directly to us and we’re able to then save it and share it and, and actually add it to the service request if it’s needed. Yeah. It’s a great service. If you also want to know more information, you can sign up on the website to get notifications of what’s going on.
For example, on Monday we’re closed. And so we just sent out a notification saying, Hey, city hall’s closed, which that’s gonna impact your garbage and it’s gonna impact the bus system. And so just in case you forget cuz it’s a holiday, that maybe not everybody’s off. So that’ll just come directly to your email or to your text message and that way you’re reminded like, Ooh, maybe let me not bring out the garbage. So I think that’s also useful. So if you do that, you can go on our website and sign up for any uh, notifications that you would want from the city to kind of help you remember some of the things that sometimes we forget.
Katy Smith: That is so great. Renei can you share any stories of interesting calls that you or your staff have received?
Renei Suarez: I think the biggest thing that I think brings us a lot of joy is that, even sometimes a certain demographic that maybe isn’t able to like Google things and find things online sometimes we’ll just do that search for them. And that’s always heartwarming when somebody calls and they’re like, oh, you were just so helpful and you were able to help me get this information that I just can’t figure out how to find.
And I think that’s like the nicest thing that we do get a lot of compliments that the city has a service that we’re willing to just find the information. I mean, I spend a, a lot of time just googling things, and that’s ok because if you get the information you need at the end of the day, that’s what we’re there for.
But we do get a lot of people that are just, just grateful that we’re able to solve their problem. That they’re just shocked that some staff will just come out day of next day Yep. And get the problem solved. And I think that is just, it’s good and you feel good about what you’re doing.
Katy Smith: For sure I always have and I’m so appreciative. So Greenville Cares is there if people have a question or they have a problem, but what are some more general ways that people can stay connected with all that’s going on at the City of Greenville?
Renei Suarez: So we are on social media. So we’re on Facebook, Instagram, LinkedIn, TikTok recently. And also we put out a weekend review in a video form that you can see on YouTube or any of the social media platforms. Or you can also sign up and receive our texts that will give you the link to this newsletter.
And in that newsletter it’s it’s kind of nice because you can see everything that’s happening in the city. For example, we had 250 calls for service for the fire department last week. Yes. So you, those are the type of information that we kind of highlight what everybody in the city’s doing. Like Ooh, look at these numbers or the park resilient to flash flooding with what happened at Unity Park with the stormwater that the engineers did what they were supposed to do and the park did what it was supposed to.
So it’s another interesting and fun way for you to keep in touch with what’s happening at the city. And also, if you’re a social media person and you have a complaint or you wanna send us a direct message, Greenville Cares also checks those messages and we’ll answer any of your questions.
And also those can turn into a service request if needed. So that’s just another way to communicate with the city. If you see something and maybe you’re on Facebook and you’re like, oh, you know what, that just reminded me.
Katy Smith: That’s so useful, and I appreciate that you’re available in Spanish as well,
Renei Suarez: We speak Spanish. I speak Spanish and many people at the city, so if you’re calling for a business license or Spanish speaking, we have police officers and many, many people in different departments that speak Spanish and will help you. If for whatever reason you or your family member don’t speak Spanish and you need somebody to communicate the information correctly.
Katy Smith: That is so great. Well, Renei, we appreciate so much all that you and your colleagues do. And I hope that this generates a lot more calls that you can resolve service on. So sorry, your dashboard might have to be bigger for the new
Renei Suarez: We welcome all the calls. Thank you. Thank you for having us.
Catherine Puckett: Simple Civics: Greenville County is a project of Greater Good Greenville. Greater Good Greenville was catalyzed by the merger of the Nonprofit Alliance and the Greenville Partnership for Philanthropy. You can learn more on our website at greatergoodgreenville.org. This is a production of the Greenville Podcast Company.