Have a question for the Department of Natural Resources in the evening or on Saturday?
The DNR has permanently extended its phone hours so the nearly half-million firearms deer hunters in Minnesota and other outdoor enthusiasts can call the Information Center until 8 p.m. on weekdays and from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. on Saturday.
“It’s important to help our customers when it’s convenient for them,” said DNR Commissioner Tom Landwehr. “Being a hunter myself, I appreciate being able to make calls after work or on the weekend, and now we know others do too.”
The DNR began a pilot project last fall to compare the popularity of its previous business hours (8 a.m.-4:30 p.m. Monday-Friday) with the new extended hours. The results are in, and the longer hours are a hit with customers.
From November 2016 through Oct. 28, the Information Center received more than 1,200 calls during the extended hours. This is an increase of more than 16 percent from the number of calls received during the same period in previous years.
“We discovered there were quite a few folks who liked the convenience of calling us after 4:30 p.m.,” said Ann McBurney, Information Center day supervisor. “Late Saturday morning is a popular time as well.”
The Information Center now also offers phone interpreter services that make it easy for non-English-speakers to get the information they need. They simply request an interpreter and staff create a three-way conversation with specialists who speak more than 220 languages.
“We want to break down barriers so all Minnesotans feel comfortable getting the information they need, whether in English or in their native language,” Landwehr said.
Customer service improvements have accompanied the rollout of longer hours.
“We’ve implemented changes that allow us to answer calls quickly and transfer them to any other DNR staffer around the state if we can’t answer their question,” McBurney said. “That’s much friendlier than asking people to make another call, or to wait for a call back.”
Frequent in-house training classes on a changing variety of natural resource topics mean the 11 customer service specialists have the most updated information available for callers.
To reach the Information Center, call 888-MINNDNR (646-6367) or send email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
For more information and to see a new video promoting extended hours, go to www.mndnr.gov/info.