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News : Callers to the Hull City Council Advice Line Left Frustrated
Feb 14, 2014 -- Callers to the city council's service are hanging up in frustration because they cannot get through to an operator.
Outsourcing provider Serco took over the contract to run the call centre service last month after Hull telecoms group KC had operated it for 14 years.
The switch to Serco has coincided with controversial new rules being introduced on what rubbish people can recycle in their blue wheelie bins.
The issue is believed to have triggered a substantial number of extra calls to the line, which offers advice and information on most council services.
Households can also use the line to pay bills and invoices from the council.
George Porte, of St George's Grove, west Hull, spent 20 minutes waiting in a queue after calling about his blue bin not being emptied. He said: "I put it on speaker phone eventually so I could do other things.
"After 20 minutes, I gave in and hung up."
Gill Goode, of Long Riston, tried on four different occasions to get through to someone over a highways issue, without any success. "The first time I was on the line for six minutes," she said. In the next two calls, I was in a queue for about four minutes before I gave up trying."
"The last time I tried on Monday morning, there was still no reply after almost five minutes, so I hung up again. It was very annoying."
Under the previous KC-run service, the average waiting times for a call to be answered were 53 seconds in November and 56 seconds in December.
A KC spokesman said those figures had been higher than normal because of the departure of a number of staff prior to the service moving to Serco.
Over the past four weeks, the average waiting time has been two minutes 48 seconds and three minutes 23 seconds.
In a statement, the city council said: "We apologise for the inconvenience caused to customers and we thank residents for their patience and ask that they bear with us at this time.
"We are experiencing an exceptionally high volume of calls made to 300300 and in January alone, we received 106,000 calls, almost 40,000 more than in December, and this volume is causing the wait time for customers.
"We are looking at what has caused the significant increase in demand.
"As of yesterday, training started to multi-skill staff further to handle calls on a wider range of services and the provider is recruiting additional call centre agents to the service.
"Customers may also wish to consider using the extensive range of information and services that are available on the council's website to help avoid delays."
The council's own performance management data shows overall customer satisfaction rates with council services accessed via the call centre were positive in the three-month period between July and September last year.
Third quarter figures, which cover the final three months of the KC contract, have yet to be published.
Today's Tip of the Day - Where Is The Problem?
More Editorial From Serco
Serco’s Business Process Outsourcing (BPO) capabilities offer middle and back office solutions to public and private sector organizations globally. With a presence in ten countries, 98 locations and a strong workforce of more than 50,000 employees it is among the top 20 global BPO players with onshore, offshore and near shore capabilities in the US, UK, Europe, Middle East, India, Mauritius, Philippines, Guatemala and Australia. With flexibility in designing solutions to suit client requirements, Serco’s BPO capabilities have helped clients to re-engineer processes across industry verticals such as Banking & Financial Services, Travel, Transportation & Hospitality, Healthcare, Logistics, Utility, Retail & Manufacturing, Telecom, IT & Online services, Media, Education and Entertainment. We provide transactional, process and voice support, finance and accounting services, and business transformation consulting, making us strongly placed to provide our customers with a broad range of end-to-end business services.
About Hull City Council:
(Kingston upon) Hull City Council is the governing body for the unitary authority and city of Kingston upon Hull. It was created in 1972 as the successor to the Corporation of (Kingston upon) Hull, which was also known as Hull Corporation and founded in 1440 by Royal charter.
Published: Tuesday, February 18, 2014