and preferably please use another channel like the internet as despite raking in £900m a year we can't afford to provide a service is more or less what Barnet Council say.
Now Mr Mustard read the 84 page report called the New Support & Customer Services Project: Business Case. See item 7 here. For a veggie Mr Mustard sees rather a lot of tripe. One of the big One Barnet ideas is to contract out the answering of the telephone (because it is too difficult for Barnet council to manage?)
What caught Mr Mustard's eye, well both of them to be accurate, on page 48, was the number of phone calls in a year to customer services, being: 2,574,070
Mr Mustard wondered how 300,000 or so residents could be making 8 calls each a year to the council ? Complaint calls about Cllr Coleman maybe? oh no, the number is too low! ( only joking Mr Coleman Sir, before you threaten Mr Mustard with the police again ). So Mr Mustard asked for a breakdown and here it is although the year ran to October 2010 so it was hopelessly out of date.
|Service area||Total calls||Per day|
|Barnet Homes Call Centre||292,734||1,126|
|Building Control and street numbering||68,490||263|
|Social Care Direct||49,630||191|
|Highways (Manager, Strategy and Admin)||44,235||170|
|Out of hours||41,133||158|
|Passenger Transport Management & Support||36,337||140|
|Customer services- planning/reception||28,686||110|
|Business Support: provides first customer contact for: |
Health and safety
Private sector housing
Care and Repair
Public health and nuisance
|Children's Social Care Duty Team||18,985||73|
|Non-domestic National Rates||16,038||62|
|FYI (information and service request)||13,806||53|
|Waste & Sustainability||11,254||43|
|EH Admin Team||11,112||43|
|Priority Intervention Team (Including Abandoned vehicles)||9,229||35|
|Safer Communities Team||4,949||19|
|Children’s social services||4,795||18|
|Design & Development||4,646||18|
|Youth and connexions||2,665||10|
|School Travel Plan||1,447||6|
|Canada Villa Youth Centre||1,236||5|
|Drugs and Alcohol Team||594||2|
|BH Unitry Development Planning||445||2|
|Common Assessment Framework team||263||1|
Contract out the switchboard. Stupid idea number one. 2000 calls a day = economy of scale. Much better to have chatterbox Ethel on the switchboard who knows everything and everybody as she can correctly route 99.9% of calls within 3 secs.
Barnet Homes : Shouldn't they take their own calls? What is the point of routing those calls through Barnet Council? As most of the calls will probably relate to maintenance it might make sense to make the numbers of the maintenance contractors public instead?
Wherever possible the aim should be to connect the customer to the person who can deal with their problem with no intervening steps. Mr Mustard has sadly had to suffer a game of pass the parcel for an enquiry which could have been answered in 30 seconds and developed into a long game of email ping-pong which is as yet unfinished and which will end up with his 3 opponents ( yes a bit unfair Mr Mustard v only 3 Barnet council employees, they needed reinforcements ) being smashed off the table in a blog shortly.
Parking. Those calls should be taken by the Information Officers ( please give these people new titles Barnet Council as they aren't information officers, are they, they handle appeals against parking tickets? ). Has it occurred to you Barnet Council that if the Information Officers spoke to customers directly they might be able to deal with appeals on the fly and cancel some tickets or be able to explain to the customer exactly why parking in the wrong place led to a ticket and educate customers to avoid further trouble and cut down the workload? Education should be the goal of the parking "service" not money grabbing.
Council tax and benefits is a complex area and the outcome is crucial to the council's income. Best to keep that core activity close to the council.
Street scene : Mr Mustard thinks that these calls include you didn't collect my dustbin / recycling box. Mr Mustard forgot to put his paper and bottles bins out this week. The May Gurney man walked a whole 10m to collect them. Well done. So complaining does work. These calls should go directly to May Gurney for recycling and to the dustman ( yes Mr Mustard knows that name is out of date ) for rubbish bins.
School admissions. These calls are for a concentrated period once a year. Mr Mustard doesn't know much about schools but would think that this could be largely dealt with on-line and wonders if, with the rise of academies, this sort of call will fall away? Either way, the call is too important to be dealt with in a call centre.
Benefits. See Council Tax above.
Libraries. How can there be 119,938 calls to libraries? If each library took their own calls the number would be manageable.
Housing advice: Let Barnet Homes manage their own calls. At least they have an 0800 number.
Assisted travel: Why so many calls about this when Barnet council refer you elsewhere?
Building control : really needs to be managed locally or anything will be built.
Registration : Calls about births, deaths and marriages should be dealt with by the source directly. They are too important, and emotional, to deal with a call centre.
Planning : Let the relevant planning officer deal with planning queries. Who knows more about planning than him/her?
Hendon Crematorium : Press 1 if you are alive! For goodness sake let people call the crematorium directly; isn't the stress of burying a loved one enough?
Electoral registration : Mr Mustard suspects that only the proper officer can amend our details so why bother with a middleman in a call centre.
Crossovers : Mr Mustard is shocked by the number of calls about these. Since Barnet Council removed the requirement for the depth of pavement to be at least the length of an average family car a large number of front gardens have been concreted over thereby desecrating the green and leafy borough. A resident of his own street converted the front garden to accept a smart car but she has a huge 4by4!
Once we reach the realm of 10 or fewer calls a day Mr Mustard cannot see why the relevant staff cannot simply take the calls as part of their normal duties.
When to call?
Please don't call in September; please call back in December or August when we are not so busy!