Agenda item

Customer Access Strategy / Contact Centre Expansion

To receive a verbal update from the Customer and Sustainable Communities Service Manager.


The Services Manager updated Members on the review of the Customer Contact Centres (CSC).


There was no room for expansion at the Dereham CSC which was located in the Peddars Way Housing Offices.  It was also limited to a 2Mg line which made the electronic transfer of information very slow.


Space had been offered in the reception area at The Guildhall for a CSC on condition that it would provide reception services for the whole building (including post sorting and servicing of the Robertson Suite).  A report requesting approval for this move would go to CMT.  If the move was approved there would be an opportunity to ‘piggyback’ on the existing NCC 10Mg line at the Guildhall.


It was noted that the provision of a manned reception would make the rest of the building more attractive for letting purposes.


The lease for the current Dereham CSC was due for renewal in April 2010 and negotiations were taking place to make this more open ended, to allow time for the Guildhall area to be made ready.


High sickness levels were affecting the service at other CSCs, and cover was being provided by Dereham staff.  In future, Thetford job descriptions would require staff flexibility to cover other locations when needed (as was already the case with Dereham) which would help to alleviate this problem.


The Services Manager was waiting for the economic climate to improve before reporting on the Attleborough CSC trial.  However she felt that three days presence was likely to be enough. 


A Housing representative was in attendance at Attleborough on Wednesdays, at Watton on Tuesday afternoons and in Thetford on Mondays and Thursdays and this was proving a popular service. 


The possibility of being involved in the Norfolk County Council ‘Tell Us Once’ Registrar service was being investigated.  When notified of a birth or death the Council could offer to cascade that information, through secure connections, to all other agencies involved, saving the notifying person the requirement of providing duplicate death certificates and contacting each agency individually.  This service also had knock-on money saving potential in terms of preventing unnecessary visits by carers and the prompt cancellation of benefit payments. 


NCC would be contacted and more information would be provided to the next meeting.


The Director of Governance and Finance asked if the Contact Centre expansion had any ICT issues that needed time-lining. 


An application was being prepared for an improved telephony system which would be presented to the next meeting and a meeting was to take place on 7 October with Lagan, to discuss the version 7 upgrade.


The Services Manager then reported on the information provided by BT concerning the number of engaged tone calls received.  These figures showed that a considerable amount of callers were receiving the engaged tone although it was likely that about a third could be interpreted as callers using the redial facility.


The figures did not agree with the Council’s own information and more detail was needed on specific numbers to be able to fully understand the implications.


It was felt that the way forward was to further develop and push the internet as a route for contact.  The costs for installing additional lines and infrastructure to deliver Contact Centre services might prove prohibitive.  It was also important to address the number of unnecessary contacts recorded by NI 14.  A lot of these calls were by people who could not understand letters sent out to them from the Council (such as Benefit related communications).  Service Managers would be contacted to see if jargon-free covering letters could be used.


The potential impact of using E-forms was discussed. A recent survey suggested that the internet was the least favoured method of contacting the Council.  A solution would be discussed with Lagan later in the week.


The Services Manager concluded by saying that eight temporary posts in the Contact Centre were due to finish on 31 March.  If these were not extended only eight staff would be left.  Without the use of more technology and development of the internet channel, more people would be needed.  Some money might be available in April for permanent seats and there was a Growth bid in for the Contact Centre for the next year.