Council makes drastic improvements in call waiting times

·2-min read
Call answer times at Swindon Borough Council have drastically improved (file photo). <i>(Image: Getty)</i>
Call answer times at Swindon Borough Council have drastically improved (file photo). (Image: Getty)

Delays in answering calls to Swindon Borough Council’s customer line have dropped dramatically over the last year.

For a number of years, the council has faced criticism for the length of time people had to wait on the line to be able to speak to a call handler or an advisor, with around half of all calls abandoned because of the wait.

Cabinet member for organisational excellence Dale Henan said there had been a real improvement.

He was asked by fellow Conservative Caryle Sydney Smith at a recent council meeting what action was being taken to improve performance in the next year.

The figures provided in response show the scale of improvement.

Whereas in July 2022 calls about social care, general inquiries and financial hardship were abandoned 47 per cent of the time, in March 23, that had dropped to 14 per cent.

The average time it took to answer a call on those subjects last July was six minutes and 53 seconds, but in March 2023, it had dropped to one minute and 42 seconds.

In July 2022, calls about housing repairs, waste and recycling, and roads took an average of 19 minutes to answer, with 53 per cent abandoned because of such a wait.

In March this year, only nine per cent of calls were dropped, and there was an average answer time of two minutes and eight seconds.

Coun Heenan said: “The turnaround over the year that I have been the cabinet member is significant. Full credit needs to go to the head of customer services and her team.

“I am aware that the Customer Services team received five compliments during February from residents on the call times, which, although it does not sound much, we have not [had] compliments for a long time on call waiting times.

"Using the council website remains the best way to raise problems, and the vast majority of issues are dealt with this way and resolved. Some people prefer to speak with someone, and last summer it could take 19 minutes to answer your call, that’s not acceptable.

“All staff are now back in the office because while hybrid working has its benefits, it has to be balanced with ensuring the council provides a good service to local residents.”