News : People Calling Worcestershire Hub Twice Nearly Doubles
Worcestershire, UK, June 17, 2015 -- The number of people calling Worcestershire's Hub twice to resolve the same problem has nearly doubled in a year, it has emerged.
Fresh concerns have been raised about the under-pressure contact centre after it emerged 33 per cent of all callers are 'repeat' ringers making another stab at trying to get their query settled.
The figure is a shock rise on the tally of 18 per cent in 2013/14, with council chiefs blaming benefit cuts for much of the problem.
The contact centre handles anywhere from 37,000 to 100,000 calls a month and has been just handed to a private company called Civica to run after years of under-performance.
A new report on how the Hub fared in the 12-month period before the handover shows how it also missed the target for answering calls within 20 seconds, which was 64 per cent, below the benchmark of 75 per cent.
The average waiting time to be served at its face-to-face service at The Hive was 15 minutes and two seconds, in line with its target.
But the data on phone calls, which are answered primarily by staff at a base at Perry Wood Walk, Worcester has sparked renewed concern.
Speaking during a meeting of the performance, management and budget scrutiny committee, Councillor Lynn Denham called it "a perennial disappointment".
"The repeat contact is 33 per cent of all the callers, it was 18 per cent last year, that's a doubling, not a reduction," she said.
"The report says it's due to high numbers of repeat contacts for housing and benefit queries but that's a statement of fact - it doesn't identify an action plan to tackle it, it's wholly inadequate."
Councillor Robert Rowden said more members of the public need to start getting reference numbers when they call the Hub - saying when they don't it always takes much longer to resolve problems.
Helen Frances, strategy and transformation service manager at the council, said: "The figures are not good on repeat performance and under the contract with Civica plans are being drawn up to address it."
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Bosses at Civica have been asked to attend a council meeting in September to take part in a Q&A on its plans.
The hub handles public queries on everything from potholes to bus passes on behalf of Worcestershire County Council and district authorities in Worcester and Malvern, with an eight-year deal aimed at saving money.
Some of that will be done by encouraging people to access self-service systems on the phone or go online, with the company already transferring over employment of the 50 staff.
Around 40 per cent of the phone calls made to it are from Worcester people.
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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