Borough’s new high-tech contact centre

Council promises better handling of phone enquiries.

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A state of the art contact centre has come on line to deliver a better system for handling phone enquiries because residents weren't satisfied. According to the Report from the Customer First Team, at 51% the overall satisfaction with LBHF is well below the national average (70%).

It varies from department to department, but telephone service satisfaction can be as low as 32%. Social Services' receives approximately 600 calls per month with an average call handling time of 15 minutes. The team answering calls regarding education awards and student support receives about 1,900 calls per month with an average call handling time of 16 minutes.

Residents also said they wanted to sort their enquiries out in one call – and the new Customer First contact centre is a big step forward in that direction. A majority of residents polled also said they wanted the service to operate outside traditional office hours and this too will be delivered over the next few months.

The new contact centre brings together highly trained staff from all over the borough into a modern facility that makes use of the latest information technology. For residents’ convenience, it retains well known ‘phone numbers.

So far, Hammersmith Town Hall’s switchboard, Smarter Borough hot line, information, electoral registration and Council Tax enquiry staff have transferred to the new contact centre, where they are able to share resources and experience. More services will follow in the autumn.

“This is about giving our residents a better service,” said Leader of the council, Cllr Andrew Slaughter. “It is a great step forward and gives us masses of potential to bring in new services and keep on improving.”

Cllr Slaughter paid tribute to Cllr Siobhan Coughlan, lead member for Customer First who steered the project to a successful conclusion, and to the borough’s private sector partners, IT specialists Agilisys.

Customer service advisors in the new contact centre will have access to new IT software, including a customer relationship management system that links information sources to give faster answers.

Email enquiries direct from the council’s web site will be processed in the contact centre and plans are in hand to provide a text messaging response service – the technology is already in place.

New information systems available to customer service advisors allow advisors to initiate requests for services that saves callers having to repeat information, and a beefed-up local web service is packed with information, including answers to frequently asked questions.

In the new contact centre, screens show how many enquiries are being handled and display performance data that enables managers to switch resources where they are needed or pinpoint any problems. New computer systems even recalculate duty rotas instantly to cope with sickness and holidays.

...........................................Source: Report from the Customer First Team/April 2003

September 25, 2004