Feature: On the 'frontline' at the borough's Customer Service Centre

Receiving an average of 1,000 calls a day, there’s never a quiet day at the Royal Borough’s Customer Services Centre. Reporter David Lee visited the team at Maidenhead Town Hall as they celebrated National Customer Services Week.

“Hello, there’s an ISIS flag flying in Grenfell Park. Can somebody get out here now to come and see what’s going on?”

It may seem far-fetched, but this is just one example of the thousands of calls that the Royal Borough’s Customer Service Centre has received in the past year.

Society may be becoming increasingly reliant on technology in the digital age but, as the council celebrated National Customer Services Week this month, the council’s cabinet member for customer and business services said that giving residents a chance to speak to people over the phone remains a high priority.

Cllr Geoff Hill, Conservative councillor for Oldfield ward, said: “The Customer Services Centre really is the frontline for the Royal Borough.

“A lot of councils have this policy of digital by default. This means everyone is put through a digital channel.

“What we’ve said is, we’ll build a digital channel but we still want to give our residents the chance to speak to people.”

The customer services team, based at Maidenhead Town Hall, receives about 1,000 calls a day with staff being set the target of answering 80 per cent of calls within a minute.

Matters discussed on the phone can range from anything from parking to residents seeking advice on housing options in the borough.

Then there’s the bin collections, a common topic of conversation that telephone staff can be heard having in the lively office on a day-to-day basis.

Slough resident Sasha Bent, 32, who has worked in the customer services team for three years, said: “We’ve had situations before where people have threatened to dump their rubbish at the Town Hall reception.

“You can’t take it personally.

“They need to vent and we are the people they can vent to.”

Jacqui Hurd, head of customer services at the borough, added: “There’s lots of problems we get where residents just assume we’re responsible, but we will try and help wherever possible.

“We’re seen as an information point and our responsibility is how can we turn an issue into something positive?

“We need to make sure we do what we say we’re going to do.”

As for the menacing Islamic State flag that was thought to be flapping in the wind in one of Maidenhead’s busy public parks, that turned out to be a skull and crossbones.

Sasha added: “We have to take all calls seriously so we sent people out there to check it out.

“Thankfully someone was just having a bit of fun for Halloween.”

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