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Council to spend £58,000 fixing 'not fit for purpose' call centre

James Harrison

Town hall chiefs have apologised for a disgraceful and ‘not fit for purpose’ customer service and promised to spend almost £60,000 fixing it.

The latest performance figures for the Royal Borough’s call centre were branded ‘disappointing and troubling’ after it was revealed the service was way off track.

And it was also shown that a ‘completely illogical’ method of tracking results had hidden the full extent of the problem.

The latest figures, which were debated at Tuesday’s cabinet meeting, initially showed 76.9 per cent of calls being answered within the one-minute target – only slightly off the official aim of 80 per cent.

But when this was expanded to include the total number of calls received, including those which went unanswered, this number dropped to 62.3 per cent.

The revelations prompted leader of the council, Cllr Simon Dudley (Con, Maidenhead Riverside), to unveil a package of reforms worth £58,000, including new staff, training and equipment.

He also apologised to opposition leader Cllr Lynne Jones (Old Windsor Residents Association, Old Windsor), who has raised the issue of call waiting times on several occasions.

“I would like to apologise to Cllr Jones,” he said.

“She was criticised for making an observation by someone who is not here now.”

He added: “We had a performance framework which masked the case that residents were sitting on the phone and giving up. It was a disgrace.”

The Advertiser reported last week Cllr Geoff Hill (Con, Oldfield) had been sacked from his role as cabinet member for customer and business services and IT, which included responsibility for the call centre.

At a council meeting in February, Cllr Jones accused Cllr Hill of ‘pathetic individual targeting’ after he accused her of exaggerating call waiting times.

In all, 10 per cent of the council’s key performance indicators were found to be off target. This also included the proportion of complaints upheld against the council, an area which was also previously under the remit of Cllr Hill.

This showed half of all 700 complaints received had been at least partially upheld and 206 fully upheld, against a target of 27 per cent.

However, ‘resident satisfaction’ was found to be 72.8 per cent, higher than the official aim of 70 per cent.

The meeting took place at Maidenhead Town Hall.

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