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Callers 'wait half an hour' to speak to Cornwall Council

Callers 'wait half an hour' to speak to Cornwall Council

Published by Emma Carton at 7:48am 13th November 2019. (Updated at 7:57am 13th November 2019)

Written by Local Democracy Reporter, Richard Whitehouse

Councillors have recommended that more staff are employed by the Cornwall Council's contact centre to improve response times, with some people having to wait more than half an hour to get a call answered.

A residents' satisfaction working group was set up by the council's customer and support services overview and scrutiny committee to see what could be done to help improve people's satisfaction with the council.

One area was the contact centre which takes all phone calls made to the council.

The group was told in July that for the year to date only 76.2% of calls to the contact centre were answered within five minutes. The target is 90%.

And the group was told that sometimes members of the public have had to wait half an hour for a response.

Councillors had been told that an automated telephone system had been introduced at the council along with a reduction in staff.

However the automated system was removed “due to the high level of resident complaints” but the cut in staff was not addressed. 

This has led to the centre being in a “constant under-staffed state” which is made worse when staff are on leave, training or sick.

county hall cornwall council
It has emerged some callers are waiting more than half an hour to get through to Cornwall Council's contact centre

 

To try to address this the overview and scrutiny committee has recommended to the leader of the council that six extra full-time staff are considered in the next budget with an estimated cost of £142,000.

The recommendation adds that staffing levels should be kept under review as fewer will be needed as residents access more services online.

Scrutiny committee chairman Richard Buscombe urged council leader Julain German to consider the request saying: "That £142,000, when considered in the scheme of things, is not that much and would make a real difference".

The committee has also called for more improvements to be made to the council's website. 

Neil Burden said there was even a member of staff who had been "struggling to find something on our website".

Richard Pears said it was important for the council to get its website and contact centre right as it was the first port of call for many residents.

He said he had difficulty navigating it as a Cornwall councillor and had "no idea what button to press".

Councillors have also recommended that the council's branding guidelines are revisited and that the council does more to make clear to people what services it provides.

They suggested that services such as Cormac and Cornwall Housing should display more clearly that they are funded by Cornwall Council.

"Listening to residents is a must and a priority and the council to be responsive to residents when required is absolutely essential.

"That is all key to residents' satisfaction - that they know that they have been listened to and have a response.

"I very much welcome the work that has gone into this and I will certainly consider the recommendations".

Councillor Julian German

Cllr German said the funding request would have to go before the full Cabinet as part of the budget discussions. 

He said he would give a formal response to all of the recommendations when they go to Cabinet.

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