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Friday Dec 13, 2013

Joburg call centre under fire

Only 4 percent of calls to the City of Joburg's call centre for water and electricity problems are answered within one and two minutes.

The DA conducted an informal survey on the Joburg Water and City Power call centre, from October 23 to November 8, and found that 27.13 percent of callers wait for more than 40 minutes for their calls to be answered, 11.63 percent between 30 and 40 minutes, and 15.12 percent between 20 and 30 minutes.

About 428 people participated about general queries to the call centre, but 258 specifically complained about the water and power technical reporting.

Councillor David Potter, who conducted the survey, said: 'As a ward councillor, part of my role is to escalate issues.

'For a number of years there has been concern with regards to the city call centres. While councillors have certain channels to attempt to escalate issues, matters need to first be logged with the respective call centre of the city.'
Potter said many years ago, City Power and Joburg Water used to manage their own calls relating to power and water issues but a few years ago, the city decided it would be better for the call centres to be managed by the City of Johannesburg Revenue and Customer Relations Department.

However, this department knows little about the issues City Power and Joburg Water are responsible for, he said. The current main concern is that in the present set-up, the operators are separate and furthest from the entity, and ultimately not responsible for the actual issue resolution.

This means that updates on logged issues take longer to be received from the callers as they first need to go via depots and dispatchers.

Logged issues are often lost between the technical call centres and the system used by the entities for issue resolution.

'Besides City Power's CPWEB (online logging system) and Joburg Water's temporary call centre, the city has failed to provide alternative 'new age' ways to have issues logged such as an all-encompassing e-services portal, an SMS logging facility and Twitter logging,' he said.

The entities cannot be blamed for this - it is not of their doing.

From the survey it was found that, generally, the courtesy of agents needs improvement.

The call centres should provide an estimated call queue hold time to the callers so that they know how long they are expected to hold, as is done by corporate call centres.

The poor, unemployed and indigent cannot afford to call the call centre, so phones should be installed at community centres, libraries and publicly accessible places so that residents are able to get through to the call centres at no charge.

This has been implemented by other cities in the country.

Potter is encouraging people to log water and electricity problems, through any smartphone or internet connection by simply entering for electricity problems or e-mail customerservice for water problems.

The Star


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