Housing New Zealand has had to hire almost the same number of staff to run its new call centre as it made redundant to set up its “more efficient” system, figures obtained by Labour show.
In April, the state corporation changed the way it operated, shutting its local office doors to its 200,000 tenants and members of the public with accommodation emergencies, and directing inquiries through a new customer service call centre.
The changes led to 70 frontline positions being axed.
The centre was touted as being able to cope with 1 million calls a year but has failed to keep up with demand after receiving 119,000 calls in April alone, 53,000 of which went unanswered.
Labour housing spokeswoman Annette King said answers she received from Housing Minister Phil Heatley showed the corporation had been forced to employ 68.5 additional staff for the call centre.
“All they have done is shuffle jobs from one area to another. But it doesn’t stop there: there is going to be even more employed.”
Housing NZ yesterday apologised for waiting times of up to 40 minutes, although Mr Heatley has said the average waiting time was about eight minutes.
I think Labour has a fair point here. The concept of a call centre may have been sound, but if it actually means more staff and worse service then it is not a good thing. Inquiries should be made of whether demand was under-estimated or the length of calls was miscalculated.
In terms of the waiting time – even eight minutes is a very long wait. It is slightly more tolerable if the call centre software can tell people how long the likely wait is, or their position in the queue. Anyone know if it does? This should be a function of all modern call centres.
The average time can be skewed by extremes. What I would be interested in knowing is what the median response time was, plus the response times for say the 1st, 10th, 25th, 75th, 90th and 99th percentiles.