May 25 2013

Harrow Council wins Call Centre of the Year

harrow_council_logoHarrow Council’s contact centre, Access Harrow, beat tough private sector competition from big names like Legal & General, NeoPost and LycaMobile, to win the prestigious ‘Call Centre of the Year’ award at the London & South East Call Centre awards ceremony on Friday (17th May).

Access Harrow is the first point of contact for residents, with enquiries covering all council departments. Residents can call in to report anything from a bin not being collected to getting advice about benefits and welfare reform. Last year, Access Harrow took almost 1.2million calls from Harrow residents.

The judges were looking for an outstanding call centre that could act as a role model for how all contact centres should operate. Nominees had to demonstrate that they continually try to improve and that their service is important for helping the organisation as a whole. They also had to prove that a wide range of technology was used effectively and innovatively to help deal with problems.

The council had to give a presentation on how well the call centre operates and the judges spent time at the council, assessing first hand how well calls were dealt with and what kind of technology is used in the centre.

An example of the innovative technology Harrow uses is the improved waste management system for collection crews and Access Harrow. The system wirelessly connects the two in real time as each collection lorry has a touch-screen computer with a GPS link. Crews can log various events on their rounds, for example when they start and finish collecting in a specific road, or if they encounter un-collectable bins. They can even upload pictures of problem areas or contaminated bins, which are sent wirelessly to the central depot and Access Harrow within four minutes.

The cost of a call to Access Harrow has dropped significantly in recent years, and now costs only 83p per call. Last year 87 per cent of calls to Access Harrow were answered within thirty seconds.
Leader of Harrow Council, and Portfolio Holder for Customer Service and Communications, Councillor Thaya Idaikkadar, said: “I am delighted that Harrow Council has won the Call Centre of the Year award. We are committed to delivering excellent customer service for all Harrow residents and I am proud that the judges have recognised our achievements. I would like to congratulate all of the Access Harrow staff for their hard work and dedication to making this happen.”

Tom Whiting, Harrow Council’s Corporate Director for Resources, said: “Customer service in Access Harrow has really improved over the years and this award is very much deserved. We have pioneered the award-winning MyHarrow Account which has moved more and more transactions online while vastly improving the amount of time it takes for us to answer and resolve our residents’ queries. This is the result of a great team working together to provide excellent customer service for our residents whilst driving down costs at the council.”

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