Stoke-on-Trent City, UK, Dec 30, 2015 -- Council managers have been reaching out to 'demoralised' call centre staff – to prevent a recurrence of this year's problems dealing with phone queries.
In June Stoke-on-Trent City Council was taking nearly seven minutes to answer calls to its Etruria contact centre, with more than half of calls being abandoned on the worst days.
The authority has now managed to reduce the waiting time to under three minutes after steps were taken to address a staffing crisis.
Over the summer the council filled 5.7 full-time equivalent vacant posts, and now 115 people have applied for an additional five vacancies, with the successful applicants due to start work next month.
Emily Bagnall, strategic manager for customer services, said she had been working to improve team-sprit at the call centre.
She admitted morale had declined, despite the authority investing in the facility itself, which was previously used by Vodafone.
She said: "The call centre staff now feel more like a part of the city council.
"Previously they did feel like the poor relations, to be honest.
"They were demoralised because they're in a satellite office and not based at the Civic Centre. They had no sense of belonging within the authority."
Ms Bagnall said senior managers and cabinet members now visited the call centre to talk to staff, which was having an impact.
She also explained the council had been able to recruit experienced call centre staff by offering them full-time positions.
The five additional CSA positions had been created through a restructuring, with no additional funding.
Ms Bagnall added: "I think the fact that the council was advertising for permanent posts, rather than fixed term, made a difference.
"People won't leave full-time jobs at companies such as bet365 or Vodafone for a temporary contract, but they might for a permanent one."
Tom Simpson, secretary of Sandyford and Goldenhill Residents' Association, said: "I have called the council on a number of occasions recently, and to be honest, the wait wasn't as bad as it has been.
"But I think the thing that really infuriates people about calling the council is having to deal with the automated menus.
"They just seem like a delaying tactic so you don't realise how long you're waiting."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
Date Posted: Thursday, December 31, 2015
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