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City call centre fields over a million customer contacts during lockdown<p>The City’s call centre remained open throughout the COVID-19 lockdown, and responded to enquiries from residents 24/7. Thus, the service remained uninterrupted, despite the restrictions imposed on the number of staff that were allowed to work from the office during Alert Level 5 to 3 of the national lockdown period.</p><p>‘From 27 March 2020 to date, our call centre has answered over a million customer enquiries via phone, email and SMS.</p><p>‘Looking back, I must say this is one of the biggest achievements: that the City almost seamlessly changed gears to brace itself for a pandemic nobody could have foreseen. We implemented changes in the fastest and smoothest way possible to ensure we maintain our customer relations services.</p><p>‘Since the national lockdown commenced, our Customer Relations Department has worked tirelessly to assist residents with information and attended to essential service enquiries despite the great operational challenges COVID-19 posed. Our staff have worked under immense pressure over these past seven months to keep up with the high level of call and email requests.</p><p>‘It was an uncertain time and our residents needed assistance and information more than ever before. We knew that the support to our customers and the frontline workers during this time would be vital,’ said the City’s Mayoral Committee Member for Corporate Services, Councillor Sharon Cottle.<br> <br>For the stricter lockdown months, the department was only allowed to have a third of its staff members on site at any given time. As such, during Alert Levels 5 to 3, the call centre’s customer service was limited to the essential services only. These included enquiries related to municipal accounts, water related faults and electricity.</p><p>Still, the City saw to it that 50% of its customer relations agents could perform their duties from home, in line with the COVID-19 health and safety protocols. Essentially, a great part of the customer call centre was being successfully operated from the residences of staff. The agents were provided with soft phones, which could be operated via a dongle or Wifi. </p><p>‘We needed as many staff as possible to work, this was the only way we could maintain our service. The management arranged dongles, moved desktops to homes and did what was needed for our agents to work from home. It was an immense undertaking, in a very short time, and required great teamwork and planning. The softphones that our agents are currently using enable them to take calls from home effectively and is how we maintained the answer rate during this time,’ said Councillor Cottle.</p><p>The Customer Relations team, in partnership with the revenue department, also went one step further to alleviate some of the pressures residents were facing. </p><p>‘A new process was introduced to assist callers with access to financial relief in the form of payment arrangements. As a caring City, the administration needed to intervene to simplify the process for these residents,’ said Councillor Cottle.</p><p>With the easing of national lockdown restrictions, the City has increased the staff numbers and we are now focused on eradicating backlogs. </p><p>From a quality assurance perspective, team leaders continue to monitor the calls and performance of agents as they work remotely. </p><p><br><strong>End</strong></p>2020-11-04T22:00:00ZGP0|#1d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70;L0|#01d539e44-7c8c-4646-887d-386dc1d95d70|City news;GTSet|#62efe227-07aa-45e7-944c-ceebacca891dGP0|#029fe683-1cda-4db0-b82a-bf96ce467c79;L0|#0029fe683-1cda-4db0-b82a-bf96ce467c79|Corporate services;GTSet|#2e3de6c1-9951-4747-8f53-470629a399bb;GP0|#c90f539a-b8d8-4b0b-b2bc-828b0f981471;L0|#0c90f539a-b8d8-4b0b-b2bc-828b0f981471|Call Centre10

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