Bin queries double call centre workloadBy Jon Nurse
June 25, 2012
A call centre dealing with requests for the borough council is taking more than 500 calls per day about the contentious recycling scheme.
Wokingham Direct, the council’s customer service centre, is taking nearly twice as many calls as this time last year as frustrated residents continue to ring in with bin bag questions – and it’s causing queues for callers.
John Fisher, 73, has been trying to report an overgrown hedge in Durand Road, Earley. “I’ve been trying to get through for six weeks,” he said. “I keep getting told I’m 15th in the queue or worse. I can’t wait for 20 minutes to be put through.”
The call centre took more than 95,000 calls between March 1 and June 15, with around half relating to waste issues.
In February and March, the centre received more than 47,000 calls and 9,000 emails from residents.
Sarah Barrow, Wokingham’s head of customer services and administration, said: “It is still busy but reducing slightly. We are getting around 6,000 calls per week in comparison with about 3,700 over the same period last year.
“We aim to answer 80 per cent of calls within 20 seconds. It’s a self- imposed target to monitor our efficiency.
“During recent weeks, average wait times have increased to around three minutes at peak times, but we offer a free callback service so that customers do not have to wait in a queue and can leave their details.
“Our telephony system calls them back when their call would have got to the front of the queue.
“QBuster not only saves the customer money it also allows us to spread the calls throughout the day so that we make the best use of our limited resources.”
But Mr Fisher is not satisfied. He said: “I’ve spoken to other people and they say they’re finding they keep being put in a long queue too.
“It was much better when we used to have all the individual numbers but now there’s just another cog in the machine between you speaking to the person you need.”
Wokingham Direct has 14 customer service advisers and two team leaders and is recruiting another three call-handling staff.
The service also includes 14 staff who help out on emails, social media and other team needs.