The Contact Centre Challenge and Local Councils
When auditing Telephone systems, I’ve found that local councils pose some excellent challenges. They’re also clients for whom it’s been possible for us to really add value.
Local councils don’t have easily defined target markets and a couple of key services or products to focus on. Very often they don’t have a single contact centre or even a single telephone system. They’re the ultimate service provider, across every age group and cultural background imaginable, responsible for everything from bin collections and noise complaints to essential social care for the most vulnerable members of our communities.
It puts a huge demand on their telephony systems, which in many cases have evolved almost organically over time. This and the sheer volume of different needs, callers, and services leads to systems and call-flows that are very complex and that face very high call volumes.
We’ve gone as far with some councils as root and branch mapping and re-mapping of call flows to really enhance the caller experience but for the purposes of this missive, I’m going to focus on three relatively quick wins.
Many councils rely on in-house recordings on their phone systems. Often this is due to misperceptions around time pressures and cost but it’s a false economy. It’s very frustrating for callers facing the likes of background noise, poor quality audio, several different voices and wildly changing volume levels in just a single phone call. Professional audio offers high and consistent quality. That’s a lot more comfortable for callers and easier to understand, especially for vulnerable or distressed callers. If a council took no other action, just putting professional audio in place would immediately improve their telephony.
If you know what scripts you need, companies like Premier CX can provide pro-audio in surprisingly quick timescales to get you started and can offer ongoing support. We can offer as little as a 2-hour turn-round for emergency messaging.
Avoid Information Overload
There is a tendency in local council call-flows, to overload callers with information. It usually aims to keep the right callers on the line, while pushing others to self-serve. What it looks like is message after complex message at all levels of the IVR, trying to cover every eventuality before callers reach an agent. A recent audit on a Council Tax line that had just this problem took me nearly 6 minutes before I reached the in-queue, let alone an agent. Imagine the frustration that represents for a repeat caller.
I’ve covered this in more detail in another article on Front-Loading, so do take a look for some more advice. In short, if you can avoid it, then do. Closely question any stakeholder who insists on adding messages to the IVR and review your system regularly to remove old ones.
What Are You Saying? How Are You Saying It?
This is about the scripting of the IVR options and the messages in your telephone system. For local councils, given the diverse cross section of the population that will be contacting them, it’s all about clarity and simplicity. Look at what you’ve written… then get someone who doesn’t know the subject to look at it. If you or they can’t get your head round it, it’s not going to work for your callers.
This links to the last point, because many messages I hear on local council phone systems are often complex. I encourage you to consider whether the phone system is the right place to put that complicated message. Far better would be to reference the information and direct callers on where to find out more. That simplifies the message and doubles up as effective deflection too. Our Creative Account Managers and Consultants strip down and re-script messages and IVR options every day, so I’m going to ask you to trust me on this old chestnut: Sometimes less is more.
At Premier CX we’re perfectly placed, with our extensive experience, to help you on all of the issues I’ve covered here and more. Our Consultancy and Creative teams can provide scripting and call-flow advice, ongoing support, and professional content for your caller experience, from the welcome message to the agent and beyond.