Monday 10 November 2014

Hanging on the telephone - Coventry call centre not performing

Tomorrow is the Performance and Contract Management Committee meeting. One of the items relates to the performance of the Capita in answering the telephone. This is an area which has received significant scrutiny in the past (see Mrs Angry's post from June) with Capita admitting that they have used call capping to dump calls when the lines get too busy.

At this week's meeting the report says that Capita answered 78.1% of calls within 20 seconds for the quarter, below the KPI target of 80% but only just. As always I like to understand what is going on behind the figures and the raw data is now published here. What I found was quite a mixed picture. I have focused on September figures as they are the most recent.

In September 90.5% of calls to the Coventry switchboard were answered within 20 seconds and only 2.1% of calls were abandoned. By contrast, only 36.9% of calls to Adult Social Work were answered within 20 seconds and 22% of calls were abandoned. This equates to 479 people who simply gave up. Worse, the maximum queue time for calls to adult social work was 57 minutes 41 seconds - no wonder people gave in and hung up. Set out below are a few more examples from September:
  • For Housing Benefits only 56.4% of calls were answered within 20 seconds and 914 calls were abandoned with a maximum queue time of 25 minutes 23 seconds.
  • For Council Tax 54.6% of calls were answered within 20 seconds and 842 calls were abandoned with a maximum queue time of 31 minutes 53 seconds.
  • For School Admissions 63.5% of calls were answered within 20 seconds and 606 calls were abandoned with a maximum queue time of 53 minutes 19 seconds.
Did any of these figures make their way into the report  - I don't think so.

Now maybe I am being a bit negative. OK, so some people had to wait nearly an hour to have their calls answered but surely once they got through, their problems were resolved. Well actually when you look at the data on call resolution that doesn't make good reading either.

Set out below is a chart which shows the calls resolved, unresolved and outcome  not recorded.

What this illustrates is that in some areas more than half the calls are going unresolved and in Children's services 94% of calls are unresolved. It is unsurprising that 71% of council tax queries get resolved as this is a key performance measure which Capita are judged on and on which Capita have provided a guaranteed collection rate. 56% of Street Based Services and 59% of Adult Occupational Therapy calls are not being resolved.

Next I had a look at wait times at both Barnet House and at Burnt Oak Library. While Barnet House initial wait times are an average of just 1 minute 26 seconds, the average initial wait time at Burnt Oak is 26 minutes 27 seconds.  Indeed, pity the poor 144 people in September who had to wait at least 45 minutes at Burnt Oak Library including one person who had an initial wait time of a shocking 81 minutes.

Perhaps responding to emails is better? No. In fact in September 32% of emails were not responded to in 10 days, surely long enough for anyone to provide a response.

So do Councillors get a better service? Well in September only 58% of members enquires were dealt with within the Service Level Agreement time of 5 days, with Education & Skills and Adults enquiries fairing particularly badly.

Will any of this get discussed at the meeting on Tuesday. I doubt it especially if  Cllr Finn is chairing the meeting doing his best to suppress any criticism of Capita and the Council's failing and destructive policy of outsourcing everything.

It is about time somebody started holding Capita to account and if our Councillors won't do it then we need to get someone who will.

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