Since the launch of the contact centre on 9th February 2004 the way customers contact the council has changed. The number of telephone calls received has reduced from 300,000 a year to 240,000, although the number of people visiting the Town Hall remains around 120,000 each year. The number of emails has doubled in 10 years with the team now handling more than 16,000 a year.
The vast majority of enquiries are around Council Tax, refuse and recycling, benefit claims and housing advice, but occasionally staff receive requests that can only be described as ‘odd’ such as,
“One customer called to say she was returning to work after several years out of work and asked if we could give her some money to buy some nice work clothes. She had also asked the Jobcentre, with no joy there either.”
“Customers driving into Crawley without satellite navigation have called the Contact Centre for someone to talk them through driving around the town.”
“A customer called to say he had to attend a funeral in Nottingham and asked if we would pay his rail fare.”
“A resident wanted our pest control officer to remove a frog from the bottom of the communal stairs in the block of flats. We advised it would probably hop off on its own accord but the resident was adamant that the frog was harassing him!”
Councillor Claire Denman, Cabinet member for Customer and Corporate Services, said: “The Contact Centre has been providing a great service to Crawley residents and visitors for 10 years.
“Over that time the way people interact with the council has changed but the service has continually moved forward to ensure it meets our customers’ needs – and will continue to do so.”