City’s faulty call centre

2014-08-21 00:00

A DAMNING internal audit report on the management of the Msunduzi call centre has laid bare its shortcomings, including the finding that municipal staff did not understand how it operated.

The report comes just weeks after the municipality released a Customer Service Charter, which included the launch of a corruption whistleblowing hotline and a pledge to run the call centre more efficiently.

Placed before the Municipal Public Accounts Committee (MPAC) yesterday, the report lists the following operational weaknesses on the call centre:

• The progress or status of faults logged were not updated;

• Faults logged were not resolved within reasonable timelines;

• Call centre agents do not correctly interpret calls and solicit the necessary information from consumers;

• Depot clerks at the infrastructure division do not acknowledge faults logged in the system;

• They do not promptly assign faults to technicians/artisans;

• The functionality of the system was not well understood by depot clerks;

• The system was unable to generate an age analysis of faults logged;

• Customer complaints were not being managed;

• Customer satisfaction surveys were not carried out; and

• Faults logged were not used by the infrastructure unit for planning.

MPAC chairperson Mike Tarr said that if the call centre did not function well, then the entire council got a bad name. He said his committee would monitor both the management of the call centre and the recently launched whistleblowing hotline as well.

MPAC member Rodger Ashe (DA) said the call centre was the first port of call for most people trying to reach the municipality. He felt that the call centre agents should be highly efficient and well trained.

Ashe said if people were not treated with courtesy, given the proper responses and their complaints acted on timeously, the image of the entire municipality suffered.

The report outlined corrective measures that could be taken to improve the centre’s functioning. These included getting more staff in the infrastructure unit to carry out repairs; more thorough training of the call centre agents — not just in telephone etiquette, but in having a basic understanding of how the infrastructure units operated; better record-keeping; more supervision; and improved two-way communication between the call centre and the infrastructure unit.

Chief financial officer Nelisiwe ­Ngcobo said many of faults listed in the report had been addressed.

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