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UK Local Authority Contact Centers Focused on Improving Service

February 01, 2008

Quality service deliverables are important for customer service centers, no matter what sector they are serving. Government customer service centers are no exception, even though they face somewhat different drivers for satisfying constituents.


According to new research, UK local authority customer service operations are now entering Phase Two in their development. This phase includes placing less emphasis on gearing up for e-Government, and more on delivering quality service that meets their customers’ needs.

“Public sector contact centers have been criticized heavily in recent times, notably in the National Consumer Council (NCC) report that criticized government contact centers for the quality of service they provide to poor and disadvantaged people,” said Paul Skinner, sales director, Macfarlane Telesystems. “Our research, however, paints a different picture — at least in the local authority sector.”

“Our study shows that local authorities are heavily focused on improving service quality, and investing in both technology and partnership-working to improve overall efficiency —a key objective of the recent Varney report — and meet key objectives such as the new NI 14 national indicator, which aims to reduce the average number of customer contacts needed to resolve customer issues.”

Macfarlane Telesystems designed and conducted this study online by means of a detailed self-service questionnaire. According to survey participants, overall Quality of Service (QoS) was rated at an acceptable 7.6 out of 10, although ratings did vary between different services.

When asked about the biggest challenge in their contact centers, improving service quality was considered the most significant challenge faced today, followed closely by delivering high first call resolution — both key drivers of overall customer satisfaction.

The findings of this study also prove that the common perception that local councils are preoccupied with meeting e-Gov targets is false. In fact, local councils rated meeting such targets as the least significant of the six challenges posed in the questionnaire.

Participants were also asked about their key objectives for the next twelve months. These objectives included focusing on service quality, improving agent performance, embracing multi-channel working, and improving first call resolution.

Prime drivers for introducing new technology into the contact center also highlighted the improvement of service quality. The aim to become a more customer-centric center was also a highly significant factor, as well as the goal of improving CPA ratings.

“Our findings show the tremendous progress that has been made in local authority contact centers over the last few years and how their focus on meeting customer needs and on quality is starting to reap significant rewards” said Paul Skinner. “While there is still a long way to go to bring UK Council Services up to the standards envisaged by the recent Varney report, there is every indication to suggest that local authorities are, more than ever, putting their customers at the heart of future planning.  We’d very much like to thank everyone that took the time to participate in our research.”

Susan J. Campbell is a contributing editor for TMC and has also written for eastbiz.com. To see more of her articles, please visit her columnist page.
 
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