Hanging on the telephone

East Dunbartonshire council callers have been left on hold

Frustrated residents are being forced to wait an average of almost six minutes before calls to East Dunbartonshire Council are answered.

The amount of time callers spend on hold was revealed in a report recently presented to the council’s Policy and Resources Committee.

NHSGGC Chairman John Brown, left, meeting Tom Herbert earlier this year

There has been no improvement over the last year, with the figure well below a target time of two minutes - a target that has now been increased to three minutes.

The report blames staff absences and training on a new call system for the poor performance, but Lib Dem group leader, Councillor Vaughan Moody, says “that’s not good enough”.

Councillor Moody said: “The council likes to refer to residents as ‘customers’. But can you imagine any ‘customer’ in a shop putting up with waiting six minutes before anyone served them? Of course you can’t, they would simply walk out.

“So apart from those who have had to endure this long wait before the council answers their calls, there must be many more who simply run out of patience and hang up.

The interior of the hall

“This doesn’t do the council’s reputation any good at all, and simply increasing the target time to massage the figures won’t wash. They must get their act together and sort this out as a matter of urgency.”

Angela Fegan, Strategic Lead for Customer & Digital Services, said: “There have been a number of challenges in our customer contact centre and the volume of calls has increased dramatically in recent years.

“We are bringing in new technology to route calls and additional resources to reduce our waiting times and have already made improvements in waiting times since the P&R report.

“We are looking to be back on target in the coming months and thank customers for their patience as we improve this service.”

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