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News : Spark to Hire 136 Extra Staff to Get on Top of Call Centre Wait Times
Auckland, New Zealand, July 4, 2016 -- Spark will hire an additional 136 customer service staff to try to cut waiting times at its call centres.
Mid-afternoon on Monday the longest wait time for a customer seeking to reach it on its 123 service line was two hours and 20 minutes.
Spokeswoman Vicky Shepherd said the company expected to start advertising the vacancies this week.
All of the jobs will be in New Zealand. Many may be at its offices in Auckland, Christchurch and Hamilton, but Shepherd said some of the new positions would be "home-based".
Spark has already taken on 200 extra customer service agents since September.
Shepherd said average call-waiting times had reduced by a fifth since then, but Spark was "not yet at the place we need to be".
For that reason it had given the go-ahead for the new hiring round.
Spark attracted praise for "transparency" last year when it began publishing details on its website of how long customers were having to wait to reach its call centres, but the picture has not always been pretty.
The majority of fault-related calls on Monday afternoon were being answered in less than a minute, with the longest wait time for faults at 59 minutes.
The main reason more staff were needed was that the issues customers were calling about were more complex than in the past, Shepherd said.
But "staff familiarity" with a new customer service software system, on which Spark has spent $200 million, had increased some call-handling times, she said.
Spark expected the impact of that to be only "short term".
"The biggest contributing factor by far to wait times is the increasing complexity of calls. Customers used to call us about one of four things; a new connection, their bill, a fault or to move house," Shepherd said.
"Now, the number of different queries runs into the hundreds as we help our customers across the board with new digital technologies, like fibre, that are transforming their lives."
"While we've made some inroads in reducing our wait times we've got a lot of work to do."
At the same as launching a recruitment drive, Spark is kicking off a campaign to encourage customers to get support online, rather than by phoning its support line.
"We have a big programme underway to build new and improved digital service channels so customers can get the help they need online," Shepherd said.
"The biggest inroads into call volumes will be made over time by helping more customers get the support they need through digital channels."
Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent
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Published: Tuesday, July 5, 2016