Rude call centre agents are in for a wake-up call as the City plans to install recording devices to tape their conversations with ratepayers.On Wednesday councillors who are members of the financial services portfolio committee expressed their dissatisfaction with the conduct of the call centre staff. They accused the agents of being rude and lacking empathy when dealing with the public and councillors themselves when they phoned. They were responding to a presentation by Batho Pele manager for the City, Siyabonga Hlongwa, on the implementation of the Batho Pele monitoring tool. The unit is responsible for ensuring that Msunduzi residents get quality service delivery by getting public servants to commit to and prioritise serving people. Hlongwa highlighted the state of the call centre as one of the challenges in dealing with customer care and dealing with complaints.“We’ve received a number of complaints regarding the call centre to say there is a lack of respect, lack of customer care ... and also the dysfunctional system of the call centre.”He said the Batho Pele unit has also done its own research and their recommendation was that the call centre should be upgraded. He said the system could not record phone calls so the City was unable to follow up or discipline the staff if there were complaints about their conduct. Hlongwa said the call centre was the first point of contact between the municipality and the public but it was currently not serving that function well.“It needs to be improved urgently because it gives us a bad image.”Acting municipal manager Neli Ngcobo said the City’s strategic management committee had taken a decision to address the challenges at the call centre. She said they were looking at getting devices that would record calls and a system that would enable management to monitor the agents as they went about their duties. Human resources has also been brought on board to assist with issues related to work ethics and tensions between the management and staff. DA councillor Ross Strachan said residents and councillors struggled to get through to the call centre during Tuesday’s storm. “We need some urgent action before another emergency does occur and we can’t get someone to attend to it as soon as we can.”Ngcobo said the senior manager in her office, Madeleine Jackson, was monitoring the calls that were made to the centre on Tuesday. Jackson also waited for about 22 minutes for the call centre’s response and eventually one of the general managers went to investigate why they were not picking up the phones. Ngcobo said he discovered that only one agent was taking calls and the others were not working. Ngcobo said the City was investigating the core of the issues at the call centre so that they could be addressed.