Residents across the state can get answers to their questions about agriculture, the environment, youth, families and consumer topics by calling the Cooperative Extension’s 1-800-ASK-UGA1. As part of UGA’s ongoing effort to offer unprecedented levels of customer service to both students and residents of the state, the 1-800-ASK-UGA1 direct dial system has been established to allow callers from any location to be automatically connected to their county extension office without struggling to locate a specific number for their area or navigate through a confusing menu.
The calling system was offered on a pilot basis for several months before it was introduced to the general public in 2006. Data shows that usage of the program is steady, especially in metropolitan areas where marketing is most pervasive. The number is provided via a host of television and radio programs, including the popular series Gardening in Georgia. Call numbers have grown considerably since new episodes of the show began airing in April 2007. The number also is used in all statewide promotional vehicles such as news releases, public service announcements, radio announcements, Web sites, etc.
“We have more than 157 UGA Extension offices in this state,” said Beverly Sparks, associate dean for extension in the College of Agricultural and Environmental Sciences. “In an effort to help our clients get the information they need and our agents and specialists make direct contact with their clients, we established the 1-800-ASK-UGA1 direct number. Our clients can now remember one easy number to dial and be directly connected to their county UGA Extension office.”
Further testing and training is planned for 2008. The hope of the Cooperative Extension is that its offices will become satellite “front doors” of the UGA throughout the state.