News : Call Centre Opens its Doors, But Hard Questions Go Unanswered
Dublin, Ireland, Aug 27, 2015 -- Irish Water believes more households will pay their second bill, but has refused to speculate on just how many.
The company opened its doors to the media yesterday for a behind-the-scenes look at its call centre in Cork.
On the 'happy to discuss' list is the fact that some 40pc of customers have so far successfully 'beaten the meter' with reduced bills. And installation is progressing nicely.
From those plastic devices, thousands of leaks were identified and five Olympic swimming pools worth of water has been saved every day since the roll-out began.
So what, we inquired, is the tone of these contacts? How do you deal with irate customers? What training is there for staff on the frontline baring the brunt of the nation's seething anger?
Well, unfortunately, no customer care reps, among the 550 in the call centre, would speak to us. But we are told the volume of aggressive callers is "negligible".
"The key is to stay as positive as possible. We use the analogy 'if you came home from work after a hard day and had no water, what would you expect?'," explains Shane Bowles, the services delivery manager.
Training is standard for anyone who works in a call centre. Some staff have become upset by calls and had to "go for a cup of tea". But "threats" are rare, and no calls have ever been reported to the gardaí.
Irish Water spokeswoman Elizabeth Arnett says that because 'reminder' letters, phone calls and texts are being issued for bill two, an increase on the 43pc compliance that greeted bill one is expected.
"We need to get to a point where we have a sustainable revenue stream that we can invest to improve the network, so of course we would expect that with each billing event that we move forward," Ms Arnett said.
So what kind of increase? 50pc maybe? But in the same way half the country won't pay for water, the utility "won't speculate" on compliance. Time will tell if the tide is to turn in Irish Water's favour.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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About Irish Water Company:
Irish Water Ltd. is a water utility company in Ireland. The company was created by the Irish Government through the Water Services Act (2013), which formally created Irish Water as a subsidiary of Bord Gáis, to provide "safe, clean and affordable water and waste water services" to water users in Ireland. Water and wastewater services were previously provided by local authorities in Ireland.
Published: Friday, August 28, 2015