Five minute wait time for council calls ‘unachievable’ says Sheffield councillor
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Coun Mike Levery made the comments in a recent strategy and resources committee meeting where they discussed plans to improve customer service.
The council is aiming to answer all calls within five minutes and for the longest call wait time to be under 20 minutes.
However, over the past year the average wait time was just over 21 minutes and the longest wait time was about three hours.
Officers said: “It is too difficult for our customers to get through to the council by phone and we resolve too few calls at first contact. Our focus has to be improving our whole customer experience.”
Coun Levery said: “Targets should be achievable. You’re actually taking two and three quarter hours. What is the benefit of the target that has been set? What are the measures you’re going to take to reach the target? Because it’s not telling me anything about how you’re going to get there and therefore are these measures appropriate?”
Tom Smith, director of direct services, said their aim was to improve services online so people did not need to call.
He said: “We always want to be ambitious with our targets but we are a long way away on waiting times.
“Clearly one way of dealing with this would be to put lots more staff on but actually the better way of dealing with it is to reduce demand. Get transactional services into the website and other mechanisms and use the limited staff and budget we’ve got to deal with the people who really genuinely need to call us or see us face-to-face. That is the strategy we will be progressing with.
“I think it’s fair to say until we start dealing with things like the website these figures are going to remain stubborn.”
The council is drawing up a comprehensive customer service strategy.
It already moved its intranet and website over to a new content management system and more than 150 web forms were improved, updated and moved onto a dedicated management system over the past 18 months.
Future projects include launching two new websites for lifelong learning and skills, and fostering as well as bringing news onto the council’s main site and scrapping the current news website by the end of this financial year.