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News : Ethekwini Municipal Call Centres ’Outdated’


Durban, South Africa, Oct 21, 2020 - Ethekwini mayor Mxolisi Kaunda has given the city’s Governance and International Relations Cluster an ultimatum to table a report in the next executive committee (Exco) meeting detailing progress made in improving customer relations and the contact centres.

A report tabled by the cluster at Exco sought the committee’s approval of a reviewed Customer Relations Management Policy and apprised councillors of progress on the municipal contact centres.

According to the report, a council decision was taken in December for the city to implement a new call management solution for all municipal contact centres: switchboard; city fleet; HR systems; revenue; water and sanitation (which is inclusive of engineering and transport Authority services); helpdesk; Sizakala and electricity.

"The current call management solution (Genesys) is an outdated and unstable technological platform that has rendered the contact centres inefficient, particularly the three customer services contact centres (electricity; revenue; and water and sanitation).

"These inefficiencies have contributed to long call wait times and inaccurate statistics," reads the report.

It said revenue and electricity were the two outstanding contact centres to be migrated on to the new solution.

Kaunda demanded reasons for the delays in migrating the two centres.

"It would seem that the challenges faced by the unit in finalising the process (migration) are administrative and not political. Why have you not resolved those challenges? Politicians should not be interfering in this. There has to be a report tabled in the next (meeting) detailing progress made in resolving this issue," Kaunda said.

Opposition parties said the call centre issue should be prioritised and an adequate staff complement employed to manage complaints from residents.

"We are not satisfied with this report. Look at social media, the comments about how difficult it is to get through to the call centres when you call for assistance," said the DA’s Nicole Graham. "These call centres are not adequately staffed and people get frustrated due to lack of communication from the city. After a call for assistance people need to hear that a plumber or electricians have been dispatched."

Graham said the DA put together proposals in early August and sent them to city leadership and were all ignored.

"Simple things like using a WhatsApp line, making public the numbers of dropped calls, ensuring there are more staff in every shift, would make all the difference to customers who often can’t access the municipality in their time of need.

"So the city is implementing a different system, it won’t change the structural problems. With the contact centre, we currently have a crisis of customer service in the municipality."

The IFP’s Mdu Nkosi echoed the DA’s sentiments.


Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent

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