Having started her career as a BT telephonist, Linda Randalls joined Falkirk Council in 1989 working on the main switchboard in the Municipal Buildings.
Over the past 29 years, Linda has seen the telephony system go through many changes including the latest and most innovative – the introduction of the Next Generation Contact Centre (NGCC).
You may not know Linda, but if you’ve ever phoned 01324 506070 over the past four months you’ll have heard her voice, as she recorded the message everyone hears when they call the Council.
We speak to Linda about her experience working within the contact centre and how the NGCC has revolutionised the way the team work.
“When I moved to the Forum in 2005 it was the first time all the telephony teams across different services had come together. At that time, you’d work on one of the helpline numbers the Council had and it could be a feast or a famine regarding the number of calls you’d get. Calls were also allocated to a handler with a specific skillset, so you had to work on one number for a certain time before moving to another to expand your knowledge across services, which wasn’t ideal.
“Now, because the majority of call handlers are trained to deal with a wide variety of calls we work across all services, providing help with everything from payments to welfare benefits, antisocial behaviour reports to bus pass requests. If you don’t have the skillset to deal with a certain call you get training. There’s also a fairer balance of work across the team and we are constantly busy.
“Before the NGCC, people were more than likely to get an engaged tone several times before getting put through and, understandably, they would be irate because it was so inefficient. Now, because people are getting through very quickly, there isn’t that layer of annoyance there once was.
“The job is more satisfying and varied than ever before. You can be dealing with a welfare call then someone with a terminal illness asking about attendance allowance then speak to someone about a missing bin. You are often dealing with very emotive calls, so you have to be able to make people feel relaxed with just the tone of your voice and people really appreciate that.”