Improvements to call waiting times at Pembrokeshire council contact centre

CALL waiting times have reduced for those ringing the council’s customer contact centre after last year’s waste changes caused significant issues.

Councillors raised concerns about the contact centre’s capacity when the number of calls spiked in response to waste and recycling changes across the county with three extra staff taken on temporarily to assist.

A report of a review of customer service performance by head of procurement and customer services Paul Ashley-Jones was presented to members of the corporate overview and scrutiny committee on November 19.

It highlights the reduction in call wait times following last year’s increase in demand, taking into consideration spikes in call numbers as lockdown eased in June.

In January 2020 the average call queue time was just over five minutes, dropping to just over one minute in April with the longest wait time of six minutes in August.

Cllr Mike Stoddart asked if this took into account calls abandoned, because if those callers had not hung up the wait times would be much higher but was told the council did not have the technology available to make that adjustment.

There were around 23,000 calls in January, around 18,000 in April and more than 30,000 in August, although not all were answered due to people abandoning the call.

Pembrokeshire County Council’s customer service centres in Pembroke Dock and Haverfordwest were closed in March due to the Covid 19 lockdown and are not set for reopening until next Spring, with further discussions on that plan due at next week’s policy and pre-decision overview and scrutiny committee.

Cabinet member for IT and transformation Cllr Neil Prior said people had “embraced digital technology” during lockdown with currently My Account – the council’s online service for information, payments and reporting – at 49,310.

‘Penfro’ the website virtual assistant dealt with more than 3,000 queries during July to August, the vast majority of which related to waste and recycling, with an increase of users in February to May.

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