March will see Hull City Council’s new partnership with Serco create 17 new city centre jobs for the contact centre, as the 300300 number continues to receive an unprecedented number of calls.
The Call Centre is experiencing an exceptionally high volume of calls made to 300 300 with 40% more calls in the last seven weeks compared with the last seven weeks of 2013. This increase has not just been restricted to the contact centre. Customer demand is also increasing sharply at the Council’s face to face customer service centres with the city centre site The Wilson Centre, experiencing a 50% increase in demand since January 2014.
Andy Brown, City Customer Services Manager, said: “We would like to apologise for any inconvenience caused to customers who have had to wait longer than normal to get calls through to the Contact Centre and thank residents for their patience at this time. We would also like to take this opportunity to highlight the extensive range of information and services that are available on the Council’s website that may help customers avoid delays.” Andy Brown, added: “We have been pleased with Serco’s response in terms of recruitment and training for the contact centre as they work to deal with this unprecedented demand”.
Serco’s Head of Operations, Samantha McLaughlan said, “We are confident that over the coming weeks the investment and innovative ideas that we have developed will see wait times improve and give us a strong platform to fully support these unexpected demand peaks.”
Significant investment has already taken place with Serco renovating a city centre office location to provide a wonderful new environment for the 82 contact centre staff who transferred from KCOM to Serco at the beginning of the year – keeping a local service very local indeed. “It’s been a whirlwind start to the year but so far it has been great,” said Kerry Cusick who has been a contact centre advisor for 9 years. “We have a fantastic new facility, new training and working practices and so far we are really enjoying working for Serco. It’s been a busy few weeks, I have never known anything like it, but we are striving hard to help customers as much as we can”
Councillor John Hewitt, Portfolio Holder for Neighbourhoods and Communities, said: “Although we expected an increase in the volume in calls in January, no-one predicted these unprecedented calls numbers and we sincerely hope that people with bear with us in these extra ordinary times. Whilst we are of course focusing on improving the call answer times, I am delighted that within the first two months of the new contract 17 new Hull jobs have been created, which will be deployed to deal with the surge in customer demand for the service.”
Serco was appointed by Hull City Council in September last year to provide contact centre support services for the Council’s 300 300 Contact Centre, which deals with a wide range of enquiries including waste management, environmental health, housing repairs, council tax and other benefits, theatre bookings, and other general enquiries.