One in five calls to Fife Council don’t get answered

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CALLERS to Fife Council are being left hanging on the telephone – with around one in five not managing to get through at all.

The Council’s annual customer report for 2011/12 reveals 22 per cent of calls to the local authority’s contact centre went unanswered.

That’s an increase from 16 per cent the previous year, a figure councillors had already slammed as being unacceptable.

At last Thursday’s full council meeting, members called for urgent action and were told a review was already underway.

They were also told there had been some improvement in call handling within the last few months.

Liberal Democrat group leader, Councillor Tim Brett, was first to express his concerns, and he was joined by Councillor David Ross (Labour, Kirkcaldy North) who acknowledged a review was taking place but insisted “urgent action” was required to address the problem.

Councillor Neil Crooks (Labour, Kirkcaldy North) added: “I think it’s a problem for everyone. I certainly get complaints from people trying to contact the Council.

“There does not appear to have been much progress on this issue over the years.”

While the total number of calls to the Council in 2011/12 fell by eight per cent, the volume of calls handled by the contact centre increased, mainly due to the transfer of social work calls to the contact centre, when previously seven separate numbers were answered in seven area offices.

In a report to councillors, Michael Enston, executive director for corporate services, stated: “Call handling rates in the contact centre will be an area for improvement this year to ensure that we better match staffing levels to demand, and work to ensure that unnecessary calls (e.g. repeat calls to chase progress) are minimised.”

He added there had already been a sustained improvement in call answering rates.

Press readers shared their frustrations over trying to contact the Council’s contact centre on our Facebook page.

Fiona Cameron said: “It’s the same ‘sorry all our advisors are busy at the moment, please call back later’ and then they hang up on you.

“What ever happened to the good old fashioned queuing system?”

And Tracy English commented: “I have never managed to get through to a real person, and I am starting to believe that the phones are not actually manned. I don’t bother trying any more.”

Christina Kelley said she held for 20 minutes to get through and then got put back in a queue for a further 15 minutes before giving up, her issue left unresolved, while Claire Meldrum said she made five attempts to get through on the phone before sending an email to ask them to phone her instead.