Tired of waiting on hold? You’re not alone Jul 16, 2015 7:20:41 GMT 7
Post by Banjo on Jul 16, 2015 7:20:41 GMT 7
Tired of waiting on hold? You’re not alone
Almost 30 per cent of seniors trying to telephone Centrelink in 2013-14 waited on hold for more than 30 minutes.
A damning audit report to the federal government showed 29 per cent of callers in the more than 1.3 million answered calls on Centrelink’s seniors line waited more than half an hour, compared with 12 per cent the previous year.
Customers calling about employment services waited an average of more than 45 minutes, up from 15 minutes the previous year.
The total time lost by customers who abandoned their calls after waiting was 143 years.
Just under a third of customers (nearly 14 million calls) hung up before their matter was resolved, and 7.8 million callers waited about 10 minutes to speak to a customer service officer before hanging up.
The Australian National Audit Office report showed the growth in digital transactions had not significantly reduced the demand for Centrelink’s telephone services, and about 40 per cent of calls to the contact centre now related to difficulties with the self-service system.
“The department has acknowledged that highly vulnerable, elderly, indigenous and disabled income support customers use the call channel as their primary means of accessing the department, and that it needs to improve its performance in this area,“ the report said.
More than 13 million calls were unable to enter the network at all, and received an engaged signal. Of the 43 million calls that were able to enter the network, about 45 per cent were answered by a service officer and about a quarter were resolved using the interactive voice response system.
Callers who spoke to a customer service officer waited an average 16 minutes, with many waiting much longer due to the distribution of actual wait times around the average. This is up from an average wait of three minutes and five seconds in 2010-11.
About 3.3 million customers were transferred back into the queue after speaking to a service officer who was unable to answer their question, meaning the wait began again.
Call wait times were the largest single cause of complaint about Centrelink services over the past three years, with customer satisfaction at 66 per cent.
The times compared with an average wait time of seven minutes or less for calls to Medicare for consumers and two minutes for providers, or 30 seconds for the Pharmaceutical Benefits Scheme.
Last year, the Commonwealth Ombudsman reported that typical complaints from Centrelink customers included waits of up to one hour in the phone queue, the cost of long waiting times when calling from a mobile, and the customer waiting for a long time and then being told to call another number.
The Department of Human Services response to the report said reducing the average call wait time to five minutes would require 1000 extra staff.
Staff numbers were down about 8 per cent in 2013-14 over the previous year, based on the number of full-time equivalent staff. The response said the online system was now the primary means of contact with the department for some customers.
The audit report recommended stricter quality control and more rapid development of the department’s co-ordinated channel strategy, which sets out how services will be delivered consistently according to client need through a variety of channels, including digital channels.
Centrelink customers made more than 59.7 million online services transactions in 2013-14, up from 58.1 million the previous year.