This is an update for Finance, Economic Development and Corporate Services Overview and Scrutiny Committee regarding the current position for call handling and customer contact within the Customer Service team, high contact service areas.
At the meeting of this Committee on 27 September 2022, an action was requested for the Committee to receive recent data on the calls handled within the Customer Service telephony system. This report, presented by the Head of Revenues, Benefits and Customer Service, provided current calls handling performance to 31 October 2022 and forward plan actions relating to Customer Service and telephony solutions.
The report provided analysis of call handling from January 2022 through to October 2022 for high volume service areas (where calls go into an agent queue) – which were:
• Allocations and Tenancy Services – lettings
• Housing Improvements and Repairs
• Customer Services – including: Benefits, Council Tax Billing,Housing Register, Switchboard
• Revenues, Business Rates, Enforcement, Rents (internal queue only)
• Street Scene, Green and Trade Waste Team (internal queue only) – this is a new queue for reporting since 3 October 2022.
Statistics were produced and issued by the Customer Service Co-Ordinator on a weekly and monthly basis to the relevant service areas. The information included number of calls offered, handled, abandoned, average speed of answer and FTE time for call handling. In addition, since 30 May 2022, the Customer Service Co-Ordinator had requested commentary from all service areas regarding any factors which could impact call handling. Currently, the service areas detailed were averaging call answering of 79%. This had since increased to 84%.
During Quarter 2, the Customer Service Team saw a reduction in staffing and took on the call handing for two additional service areas – Council Tax and Benefits (not including complex calls). Since April 2022 over 54,000 Council Tax Energy Rebate payments had been made. There had been significant email and telephone contact resulting in this funding. October had seen the recruitment of 5.27 full time equivalents into the Customer Service Team to replace vacant posts within the team and to ensure adequate resources for the additional service area contacts. The new members of the team had received training during October and this had been very successful. The training was ongoing and will take time for them to learn all 16 service areas.
Members raised the following points during discussion:
· Had any examples of problems been received by Councillors as requested by the Head of Revenues, Benefits and Customer Services?
· What changes had been made to mitigate the 1 in 5 calls that did not get answered. Was there information on the length of time a customer waited and how many calls were abandoned?
· It was noted that there had been a marked improvement in recent call-handling.
· The number of complaints received by Councillors becoming reduced in numbers will be the most positive sign of improvement. We should always aim to provide the best service we can.
The Head of Revenues, Benefits and Customer Service confirmed that one example of a complaint had been received and it was dealt with and responded to at that time. Changes to the staffing rota had meant that there were increased staff numbers at known busy periods such as a Monday morning. Information was available on the numbers of calls abandoned and waiting times if requested.
It was proposed, seconded, and AGREED:
That the Committee:
a) Noted the report and action plan and were invited to ask questions relating to the report and supporting documents.