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With an average 60,000 calls to the Council getting an engaged tone every month, something innovative had to be done to ensure the public could contact the service they needed over the phone with ease.

On July 4th this year, the Next Generation Contact Centre (NGCC) was launched, offering callers a more simplistic and responsive way to contact the Council using just one telephone number (01324 506070) - eliminating the need for circa 50 different helpline numbers.

Ian Whitelaw, Customer & Business Support Team Leader, and Council of the Future NGCC project manager, said: “In the past, if people had chosen the incorrect helpline number they had to be re-directed to the number they actually needed. They invariably got stuck in yet another queue.

"Now, thanks to the NGCC project, when people call the Council they simply choose the correct option which takes them directly to the service they need, or to a contact centre representative who helps identify the service they require. No more engaged tones; less queuing.

“Because the new system allows us to put people directly to service areas first there is no double handling of calls. Take housing for example, previously we would receive around 5000 phone calls per month for that service alone. These calls then had to be forwarded on. Now, they go direct and help us save £15,000 each month.

“The NGCC will soon handle all emails that land via and through the online portal. At the moment, between 3000 and 5000 emails per month have to be re-typed into the old system and individual responses issued. When the capability to respond directly to emails goes live, emails will land into the NGCC and a faster response will be sent – helping the Council become more efficient in the way it handles enquiries.

“One of the biggest benefits the system brings to the Council is its ability to provide real time data – the hard facts that will help future decision making and improve and transform our customer experience. We now have a system that also records calls, allowing the Council to monitor all customer interactions for quality and quantity. This ensures we are delivering the best possible service every time.”