Room for improvement in Ekurhuleni’s inefficient call centre

by Ald. Tania Campbell — DA Leader in Ekurhuleni

Date: 06 May 2021

Release: Immediate

Type: Media statement

The Department of Service Delivery & Coordination in the City of Ekurhuleni (CoE) strives to gear its call centre to the values of “Putting the Customers of Ekurhuleni First”.

In reality, nothing could be further from the truth as the performance of the Call Centre, presented in a report for the Second Quarter of 2020/21 during the April 28th Council Meeting, leaves a lot to be desired. While the Report does indicate certain improvements from the first quarter, the service level requests are still nowhere near to what is are reasonably expected from residents who are experiencing service delivery failures at an unprecedented rate under the ANC-led coalition* in the CoE.

The service level, which is based on the number of calls answered within 20 seconds of a complainant calling, increased from 26,89% to 68% in the second quarter of 2020/21. A dramatic increase indeed, but room for improvement. The abandon rate, the percentage of calls that are not answered by an agent and ended by the caller, also showed an improvement decreasing from 60,68% to 32% is still well off the internal target of 3%.

It is important to keep in mind that the completion of a call from a complainant does not equate to work completed. The Call Centre is just a repository for complaints, and not an indication of the level of service delivery across the City.

The reliability of information within the report is of concern with an unrealistic figure of 0% complaints that have been received through the mobile app over the quarter. This is impossible as both councillors and residents regularly log complaints through the app to obtain reference numbers. The 1306 complaints regarding power outages too, seems underreported given the prevalent and systemic outages experienced across the City.

Further, there also seems to be a breakdown in communication between Call Centre agents and relevant City departments. Where these agents are supposed to be equipped with information regarding service delivery breakdowns, they too often refer complaints to the councillors, which further frustrates residents by prolonging the process, while inundating councillors with calls and inquiries in which they may not even have the relevant information themselves.

The Democratic Alliance (DA) in Ekurhuleni considers the Call Centre a critical first point of contact for residents to report service delivery failures. The capacitation of Call Centre staff, as well as the Centre’s efficiencies in processing complaints, is an important facet in the Metro’s ability to perform service delivery. As such, the DA has sent questions to the Speaker of Council, Ald. Kumalo, querying some of the contentious line items within the report. In addition, the Party will continue to put pressure on the ANC-led Coalition* government to ensure that the Call Centre is responsive and an enabler of effective service delivery.

*Coalition Partners: African Independent Congress (AIC), Pan Africanist Congress (PAC), Patriotic Alliance (PA) and Independent Ratepayers Association of South Africa (IRASA)

Ald. Tania Campbell

DA Leader in Ekurhuleni

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