I had to call my local authority last week. A tree from the council owned woodlands behind my house inconveniently decided to fall onto a tree in our backyard. It was a pretty big tree and it was kinda super dangerous for my family.

Before I called them, I jumped online and reported the problem using their nifty online portal.

But then nothing happened.

After waiting 24 hours, I called them and wow – it’s like someone designed and implemented the most perfect horrible customer experience possible.

Warning: This is about to get shouty.

Let’s start with the hours of operation because well, that’s the first thing they tell me. That they are open from 9:30am to 4pm. Firstly, what kind of lazy-assed hours are those? Secondly, I’m calling within those times – You don’t need to tell me you are open, ANSWER MY DAMN CALL!

Ok. So the very next thing they tell me is that “Did I know I can now do this all online through their super special online portal blah blah blah..?”

Yes. I did know that. In fact, that’s what I already did. But nothing happened.

Then I get the IVR menu. Press 1 for this, 2 for that etc ad nauseam. I select my option and then I get a new message which tells me that “Did I know I can now do this all online through their super special online portal blah blah blah..?”


Then I get the message that they are soooo busy and there’s going to be a wait. PERHAPS THIS IS BECAUSE YOU ARE ONLY OPEN FOR 6 AND A HALF HOURS PER DAY.

So I’m waiting and oh-my-god they told me AGAIN about how I can do this all online. I’m not making this up.

I finally get through to the department I need. They don’t listen – I have to repeat everything 3 times. I have to correct them when they start playing my problem back to me. I have to push them to advise me what will happen next and when. Totally clueless.

Eventually, I’m told someone will be out to my house within 24 hours.

48 hours later I’m back on the phone (Did I know I can now do this all online through their super special online portal…?).

I get the same Advisor and I tell them nothing has happened and no one came. They tell me they will chase and call me back within the hour.

2 hours later I’m calling again and the Advisor tells me they are going to email the person that needs to deal with it and hopefully they will call me. Hopefully.

Later that day, someone did eventually call me and they did send someone around to sort out the issue.

But seriously, what a giant waste of everyone’s time to get there.

No centre intentionally sets out to be terrible. So what could this centre do to improve performance?

  • Review all IVR’s and messages. Stop repeating yourself and reduce complexity of menus. Less is more with this one.
  • Increase opening hours. This is a thinly veiled attempt at cost cutting, which ultimately doesn’t work.
  • Review and improve web-portal SLA’s. You need to get back to the customer in the timeframe THEY expect (not what you arbitrarily decide). Otherwise, they’ll keep calling you.
  • Take ownership. Once an issue is reported, the advisor needs to take ownership until whoever needs to sort the issue has sorted the issue. Otherwise, they’ll keep calling you.
  • Reduce segmentation. The fact I could call 3 times, navigate the IVR to the area I needed and get the same person 3 times, indicates there is probably too much segmentation of call types. They need to better pool resources to help improve call centre efficiency.

I’ve not visited the centre (but I’d love to!) so there are probably other opportunities to improve.

What could they achieve with just a little investment in Continuous Improvement?