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News : Birmingham Council Call Centre Told to Improve on Woeful Performance
Birmingham, UK, July 16, 2015 -- Just 56 per cent of residents are satisfied with the response from Birmingham City Council's call centre prompting calls for major improvements.
The council's corporate services committee heard that too often complaints are not dealt with and services are not delivered as promised.
Under private contractor Capita-Service Birmingham customer satisfaction rates were around 43 per cent last year , but this has risen to 56 per cent since the City Council took over the facility.
The watchdog committee, while recognising some improvement since it was taken in-house last November , is calling for more to be done.
The call centre deals with thousands of calls per day on the full range of services from bin collections to benefits and the committee says that the levels remain too low and have launched an inquiry into the service.
Chairman of the corporate resources scrutiny committee Waseem Zaffar (Lab, Lozells and East Handsworth) said: "The honest and blunt truth is that the numbers to not make good reading. Clearly the performance is not anywhere near where it should be.
"I wonder if what is needed is a culture change."
He explained that as an Aston Villa fan he recalled a point last year when the new manager Tim Sherwood said that ‘players had got used to losing’ at the club and so some fresh blood was need. "Are there some parts of the service who have got complacent."
A previous inquiry found that there was too little joined up action - so a complaint taken by the call centre could often be ignored by the council department and no action taken.
Call centre boss Chris Gibbs replied that there has been closer working between the centre and council departments since the council took over - with regular meetings to pick up concerns.
But he warned there are still problems with the end to end service - that when a complaint is received and passed on it is not always dealt with at the other end.
He said if a resident complains about a missed bin collection and ‘they get a message that it has been picked up and it has not, it makes all of us look like fools'.
The committee also heard that teething problems with the city wide roll out of wheelie bins over the last two years had also placed extra pressure on the service.
Capita had previously claimed its satisfaction rates were 97 per cent but councillors, who were inundated with complaints, questioned the way this was measured and instigated new independent text message surveys last year - which revealed the 45 per cent satisfaction.
The council has also previously ruled out automated call centres after it emerged that some voice recognition systems could not understand the Brummie accent .
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Birmingham City Council:
Birmingham City Council is the local government body responsible for the governance of the City of Birmingham in England, which has been a metropolitan district since 1974.
Published: Friday, July 17, 2015