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Industry Research : Half of the 16 Million Canadians Calling Government Call Centres Can't Get Through


Half of the 16 million Canadians who tried to reach an actual agent when contacting a government call centre in 2017-18 could not get through, says a report released Tuesday by the Office of the Auditor General of Canada.

The report found millions of callers to three call centres — Employment Insurance, Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security, and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada — could not reach an agent during the 2017-18 analysis period.

Callers were either redirected to an automated system or website, or told to call back later, the report said. Some simply hung up.

The auditor general found that 6.9 million callers weren't able to talk to a live person and over 1.3 million terminated their calls early.

Callers who did get through to a person had to wait 30 minutes or longer, exceeding some call centre wait times.

Needs of clients not always met, report says

Veterans Affairs call centres were also scrutinized, and the auditor found callers typically were able to reach an agent.

But the auditor still slammed the department for its wait times and for cancelling teletypewriter services for the hearing impaired "without first consulting with or telling veterans."

Many of the government's call centres did not have customer service-focused delivery models, the auditor general found.

"We found that Veterans Affairs Canada and Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada did not always consider the needs of their clients when making decisions about call centre services," the report stated.

Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship Canada didn't have wait time targets; the report found that department had the longest average wait times of the call centres it examined.

"Without service standards, callers could not know what level of service they could expect from call centres, and the departments had no public commitments to meet," the report said.

Where standards existed, many weren't based on feedback from callers, the auditor found.

'Aging systems' plaguing call centres

The report also found plans to modernize federal call centres are behind schedule.

Five years after the federal government began modernizing over 221 centres, only eight have been completed.

The report found Shared Services Canada hadn't even finalized its plan for the remaining 213 call centres ahead of the 2020 deadline.

The report warns that upgrading the remaining call centres could take years, and centres could be plagued by "service interruptions or outages because of their aging systems."

Shared Services underestimated the cost and amount of work needed to modernize call centres, the auditor also found.

Call centre problems a relic of the Harper era?

At a news conference Tuesday afternoon, Minister of Families, Children and Social Development Jean-Yves Duclos acknowledged the government still has much work to do.

But Duclos slammed the previous government under Stephen Harper, accusing the Conservatives of neglecting the call centre system.

"Our government has done away with the negligence of the past government and will continue to improve services to all Canadians," Duclos said.

Michelle Rempel, an Alberta Conservative MP, rejected the government's attempts to attribute the problems to the Harper era.

Rempel said the Liberals should be taking responsibility for the problems with call centres and other issues the auditor general highlighted in the report.

"I cannot believe that six weeks left in Parliament after four years (in government) and they are coming out here and saying it is Stephen Harper's fault," Rempel said. "That's just patently ridiculous."

In a joint statement, Duclos and other ministers acknowledged the problems identified by the auditor general and said the government is taking steps:

- Employment and Social Development Canada is overhauling old technology and installing a new phone system.

- Immigration, Refugees and Citizenship will hire more call centre agents, expand their hours of operation, offer a call-back option and install a chat bot on social media channels to respond to questions.

- Veterans Affairs will restore the teletypewriter service for hearing-impaired clients.

Overall, the federal departments under scrutiny agreed with the recommendations in the auditor general's report.

The only department that isn't fully complying with the auditor's recommendations is Employment and Social Development Canada, which handles calls about Employment Insurance, the Canada Pension Plan and Old Age Security.

The department told auditors it will not track those who hang up before the 10 minute standard waiting time has passed.

Jean Goulet, a member of the AG's audit team, said all hang-ups should be counted.

"On that specific point we have a different view," Goulet said during a news conference. "Our view is based on industry standards."


Posted by Veronica Silva Cusi, news correspondent

Today's Tip of the Day - What Does Your Business Need?

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

Published: Monday, May 20, 2019

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2022 Buyers Guide Inbound Call Handling Services

Premium Listing
Call Center Studio

Call Center Studio
Call Center Studio is the world’s first call center built on Google and is one of the most secure and stable systems with some of the industry’s best reporting. It is one of the most full-featured enterprise grade systems (with the most calling features, one of the best call distribution, outbound dialing features and integrations—including IVR, AI Speech Recognition, blended inbound/outbound calling and includes Google’s new Dialogflow and Speech API. Call Center Studio is the absolute easiest to use (with a 10 minute setup), and is the price performance leader with lower equipment cost and less setup time.


Calls are received by the right person or department. The right corresponding information is shown to the agent which makes that appointments are handled quicker and more secure.

3.) Agara

Agara is an autonomous virtual voice agent powered by Real-time Voice AI. It is designed to have intelligent conversations with your customers, vendors, and partners without any assistance from human agents. It can handle a wide variety of calls including inbound customer care calls, outbound lead generation calls, appointment scheduling calls, and overdue payment recovery calls.

Agara is available for several industries including banking, insurance, retail, e-commerce, airlines, and telecom. Powered by advanced Real-time Voice AI that understands speech in real-time, automatically determines the right process to follow and guides the caller along in the process with natural conversation.


Telephone Answering Services
Answer4u offers both SME and corporate sized businesses Telephone Answering Services delivered by our team of professional receptionists. They are all trained to answer your calls, in your company name, whenever you need them most.

All of our client calls are answered in our Nottingham offices, in the heart of England. We have agents working on a 24/7 basis, meaning all calls are answered through the day and night by UK based operatives. No calls are ever outsourced or go to an answering machine.

Each of our clients has their own personal Account Manager, who heads a team of trained receptionists. Our receptionists answer the phone in your company name, explain to your callers that yo...
(read more)

Connect Assist

Contact Centre Services
We’re a specialist Contact Centre business and market leaders helping socially focused organisations deliver quality support to their clients and service users. We do this by providing 24/7 helplines, software solutions and consultancy services.

Since launching in 2006, we’ve operated at the sharp end of customer service, supporting some of society’s most vulnerable people. We’ve pioneered in our space to become a specialist in helplines, whilst using the most advanced communication and database technologies available.

Our social mission has remained a constant throughout, providing many meaningful career prospects and growth opportunities to people within our local communities and fur...
(read more)

Digital Wholesale Solutions

International Inbound (ITFS & DID's) & Int'l Two Way Voice (SIP Trunks)
Digital Wholesale Solutions (formerly Daisy Worldwide) specialise in Global Inbound ITFS and DID Services from 160 countries (covering 7,000+ cities).

We also have International SIP Trunk (66 Countries) – where numbers are presented in a local format.

7.) Jointly International Inc.

Front Office Solutions
Front office is your Company’s first line of customer interaction and serves as the mirror of your business. Focus on your core business and let our competent staff handle your various front office needs such as:

* Customer Service via chat, email or phone
* Technical Support via chat, email or phone
* Helpdesk
* Virtual Assistant/Receptionist
* Answering Service
* Lead Generation
* Appointment Setting
* Verification
* Surveys
* Debt Recover, Collections

MattsenKumar LLC

Contact Center Outsourcing
By catering valuable, usable and enjoyable customer service, businesses can increase their CSAT Score and Customer Retention Rate. We help organizations to provide quality customer service through varied channels like email, phone and live chat. Ensuring quality after-sales support is our USP and we rely on proven approaches to ensure quality customer service.

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 Performance Monitoring


VADS Inbound Contact Center
VADS Inbound Contact Center Services provide live operators who answer incoming calls as you would yourself. A team of professional script writers is available to help you script a greeting and experience programmers will set up a time and money saving program. Our unique approach to call center services is client-focused, and takes each project’s unique needs into account to our client’s satisfaction. We offer solution as part of our service to keep you in touch with your client and drive sales.

- Customer Service
- Walk In Center
- Service Desk

Technosys IT Management

Customer Support
Technosys IT Management Bpo, the business process Outsourcing, gives end-to-end transformative administrations for its customers over the globe. The organization's coordinated IT and BPO arrangements approach empowers it to open business esteem crosswise over ventures and administration lines, and address business challenges for its customers. Using inventive business perfection structures, progressing profitability changes, process reengineering, mechanization, and front line innovation stages, Technosys IT Management empowers its customers to accomplish their cost diminishment goals, enhance process efficiencies, upgrade viability, and convey unrivaled client encounter

Tru29 Outsource Solutions Inc.

Front Office Solutions
Any part of your business operations that requires constant end-customer facing task is an essential part of your business.

This task requires a good customer experience results for every customer interaction. Our extensive experience in handling Front Office related tasks can help you focus on your core business while being cost-efficient at the same time.

About us - in 60 seconds!

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