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News : City Council Phone Line Helps Hundreds of Residents Through Coronavirus Crisis


Oxford, UK, May 4, 2020 -- Help is at hand for anyone who needs it during these difficult times, with the first point of call being Oxford City Council’s telephone number - 01865 249 811.

But behind that number is the story of a huge effort to respond to the coronavirus crisis and continue to deliver business as usual.

The team answering the calls

The City Council’s contact centre team usually deal with calls from people and businesses about money matters, missed bin collections, housing queries. The staff are highly trained to work with the caller to understand and resolve their problems at this first point of contact.

The team are now also taking around an additional 100 calls a day from people needing help to cope with lockdown, from practical support like picking up prescriptions to people needing help with their finances, feeling isolated or in urgent need of food. The contact centre still takes around 500 calls a day on all the normal issues as well.

The team of around 55 staff are working from home, and have been rapidly trained and equipped to deal with the coronavirus callers with understanding and support, as well as dealing with the normal calls.

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Making a difference

How they handle the calls can make a huge difference to the people asking for help. They talk callers through all the problems they need help with and make sure they get referred to the right support. This could be a volunteer to pick up a prescription, or a locality response hub to help with food, medical needs or isolation.

Call handler Saffron Costello lives in Oxford in a busy house she shares with six other people – hardly the ideal circumstances, but Saffron has set herself up working from her dining table. She recently received a letter of thanks for the way she helped one caller:

"It was lovely to receive a letter of thanks from a member of the public who called for help with collecting shopping. I was able to refer her to the local hub. From there, an emergency food parcel was delivered that same day and a local volunteer was allocated to provide ongoing support."

The team isn’t only taking incoming calls, they are also making phone calls to check on people the council knows may be vulnerable, to make sure they know they can get support. Over 1,200 people have been contacted; to check on welfare, make referrals for extra help and often just offer a friendly chat. For those not reached, face-to-face visits are arranged.

Call handler George Watkins lives at home with his mum in Littlemore. Having evicted his two dogs from the front room he’s turned it into his office, from where he has been helping to make calls to vulnerable residents.

"We’re reaching out to those on the NHS "shielded" list, to older people and to our more vulnerable tenants. Those I speak to often just don’t know that there is support available, particularly older people who have few friends of family nearby. I make sure that they know we are here, and if necessary, pass them on to the hub for some extra help."

Weekly statistics

Last week the Council’s contact centre took 266 calls and online requests asking for support, and overall support service for the coronavirus crisis responded to 348 new requests for help last week (Mon 27 April -Sun 3 May) for emergency needs like food parcels and health problems from prescription deliveries to tackling loneliness. 82 referrals were made by the council’s voluntary sector partner Oxford Hub.

The top reasons for calls were:

143 requests for urgent supplies
60 requests for picking up shopping

"I’m incredibly proud of the way our contact centre staff have quickly adapted to these difficult conditions and the way they continue to provide an excellent service to communities across Oxford.

"The team are working hard, on hand and ready to answer your call and get you the help you need quickly and efficiently.

"While helping those affected by the coronavirus is a priority, we also continue to deliver our normal business. The council is still open – if we can help, we’re just a phone call away."

Councillor Nigel Chapman, Cabinet Member for Customer Focused Services

If you – or someone you are worried about – needs support associated with the coronavirus outbreak, they can either call or use the online form.

For all other queries relating to Oxford City Council’s services, at this busy time please check our website first before calling the council.


Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent

Today's Tip of the Day - Don’t Over Glamorise Your Job Adverts

Read today's tip or listen to it on podcast.

Published: Tuesday, May 5, 2020

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2021 Buyers Guide Business Continuity


CallGuard Remote
A flexible way to take secure, PCI DSS compliant payments from home or remote locations. It’s quick to deploy needs no changes to processes or systems.

CallGuard Remote prevents agents from seeing, hearing or recording card details so, the agent, their screen, and any call recordings are removed from the scope of PCI DSS.

This simple approach means the customer effectively types their own payment information into the agent’s payment screen, but with the card details being shielded from the agent’s view. It’s simple, and highly effective.

OpsTel Services

The SPEED solution solves for service level issues while cost optimizing the environment with automation.

Provides an enhanced way to speed up & optimize invoking temporary agent skills configuration changes into the contact center environment.

Speed allows you to schedule both future changes & temporary changes that auto-revert back to the original state when scheduled time expires.

Speed features:

*Automated / Scheduled Temporary Agent Skills Configuration Management
*Immediate Temporary or Reoccurring Schedule Skills Configuration Changes
*Easy to Use/Operations Administration Focused
*Descriptive Monitoring Activity Dashboard
*Detailed “End to End’ Audit Trail and Perfor...
(read more)


VADS Business Continuity Plan
VADS provides a business continuity plan by providing full outsource services and manage services. we've provided this to several clients. You can contact us for a detailed study case.

Teckinfo Solutions Pvt. Ltd.

InterDialog UCCS
Adapting to the new normal contact center industry has to be ready for work from anywhere agents to maintain business continuity. Even when working from remote locations, the work from home agents or remote agents need to be monitored for smooth customer service operations or effective tele sales.

InterDialog UCCS with its work from home agent ready call center software helps you to have complete control over your contact center operations. Agents can log in from any where , home, office or any other place where they are through their mobile phone or desktop , or even through our ID mobile app . With centralized recording & reporting , you gain visibility of all contact center metrics , and you can manage your center the same way as you were doing when working from office.

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