Chapter 9: Monitoring Performance:
121. The Central Office of Information (COI) in its 'Better Practice Guidance for Government Contact Centres' provides advice on monitoring performance. It states that in general standard weekly reports can include:
- Contact volumes by source (eg media)
- Contact volumes by region/postcode
- Contact durations
- Contact waiting times
- Lost/abandoned calls
- Complaint volumes and nature of complaint
- Performance against service standards
122. As described earlier the administrative manager monitors performance on a daily basis and reports to the business manager who in turn reports to senior management. Enquiry Point operators indicated that they were all aware of targets.
Number of Calls
123. The following table shows the number of calls received at the Enquiry Point in years 2009 to 2012:
Number of Calls Received
124. It can be seen that there was a large increase (192%) in the number of calls received in 2010 compared with 2009. This would perhaps have been due to a settling in period and change of practice to make the Enquiry Point the first point of contact. The number of calls since have been steadily falling.
Contact Volumes by Type
125. We reviewed Enquiry Point records relating to calls during period 01/05/12 to 30/11/12. The breakdown of type of call can be seen in Appendix 2. These calls can be further broken down into reason for call as shown in Appendix 3.
126. The breakdown of calls received during the 6 month period show that by far calls received from witnesses were the highest at 29,096 followed by solicitors at 22,824, Police at 14,388, accused persons at 12,428 and non police reporting agencies (eg Health and Safety Executive) at 9064.
127. Reasons for calls from the top 4 types19 show the following:
- Witnesses - enquiries relating to witness citation were most common at 2,877 followed by calls relating to excusal at court at 1,974
- Solicitors - by far calls to discuss cases were the most frequent at 18,627 during the 6 month period followed by queries relating to disclosure at 1,642 and calls to leave messages at 1,122
- Police - enquiries relating to case progress were most common at 3,166 during the 6 month period followed by calls looking for advice and guidance at 2,386 and calls relating to excusals from court at 1,756
- Accused Persons - enquiries relating to fixed penalties and fiscal fines were most frequent at 5,319 during the 6 month period followed by queries relating to pleas at 1,484 and property at 1,446
128. This type of detailed information can be passed on to management on request for monitoring purposes and in fact the last management report relating to quarter 4 of 2012 issued to the Crown Agent highlighted the top call type for the quarter along with reason.
129. IPS were advised that the Enquiry Point is still evolving and that further categories of caller or reason for call can be added to the database as need is identified.
Contact by region/postcode:
130. This type of information is not collected and we do not see that there is a need for such at this time.
131. Management advised that they do not have a formal target for duration of call as they understand that providing a quality service can't be rushed. There is however an informal target of 4 minutes.
132. Figures provided by the Enquiry Point show that in the first 6 months of 2012 the average call duration was 2 minutes 46 seconds and the latter 6 months was 3 minutes and 6 seconds. This falls well within the informal 4 minute target and compares favourably with the industry standard20 mean average call duration for service calls.
133. Staff indicated that on occasion calls can last for 20 minutes and that this does impact on performance.
134. Management reports21 show that the average call waiting time for calendar year 2011 was 44 seconds. In the first 6 months of 2012 the average waiting time was 57 seconds but in the latter 6 months it had increased quite considerably to 2 minutes and 16 seconds. One reason given for this was staff shortage. There were 10 part-time vacancies during that period, however, at December 2012, 8 of these positions had been filled with a further 5 advertised in February 2013.
135. The average waiting time for calls to be answered in the Enquiry Point was found to be higher than the industry standard22 average speed to answer even at its lowest in 2011 and particularly in the second half of 2012.
136. The following table shows the average abandoned call rate for years 2009 to 2012:
137. The figures show that the abandoned call rate fell in 2010 and again in 2011 but increased in 2012. A further breakdown of 2012 showed that the 10% target was met in quarters 1 and 2 at 8.7% and 9.97% respectfully but increased sharply in quarter 3 to 20.64 % and decreased again to 12.25% in quarter 4. Again this corresponds with the shortage of staff in quarter 3 which has been partly addressed in quarter 4 as demonstrated by the decrease.
138. Overall the abandoned call rate at the Enquiry Point exceeds the industry standards24 call abandonment rate.
139. The following table shows the average transferred call rate for years 2009 to 2012:
|Transferred Calls25 (target 20%
to 2011 and 15% from 2012)
140. The target for transferring calls was changed in January 2012 to transfer 15% rather than 20% (or deal with 85% of calls at first point of contact rather than 80%). IPS wondered whether this was entirely realistic and was a target that could not be achieved but we were advised that the change was based on past experience and results of monitoring showing a downward trend in the need for calls to be transferred.
141. It can be seen that the number of calls being transferred has indeed reduced over the period which shows that more calls are being dealt with by the Enquiry Point. The industry standard26 for transferred calls is much lower however it is unfair to measure against this standard given that a proportion of calls received will always be required to be passed on to legal members of staff eg solicitors wishing to discuss cases (see breakdown of calls from solicitors at Appendix 3).
First Call Resolution
142. The COI states that first contact resolution can be defined as the percentage of transactions successfully completed during the first contact made. However, this is difficult to measure given that on occasion the most appropriate response could be to pass the person on to another part of the organisation who may or may not be able to deal with it. Another difficulty can be if there is no measurement of whether the enquiry was completely dealt with or whether the caller has been asked to call back.
143. It could be said that Enquiry Point calls that have not been transferred have been dealt with but this cannot be a true indication of 'first call resolution' as there is no measurement of whether callers have been asked to call back or if a transferred call has been completely dealt with.
It is recommended that management introduce some form of measurement of whether calls are completely resolved at first contact.
144. Complaints should be treated seriously, should be dealt with promptly and in accordance with an organisation's complaints procedure. Acknowledgements should be given and responses should include details of who to contact next if appropriate.
145. The system used to record and monitor customer feedback including complaints, compliments, comments and suggestions within the COPFS is called 'Respond'. It also records and monitors requests for information under the Freedom of Information (Scotland) Act 2002, the Data Protection Act 1998 and Ministerial Correspondence.
146. Staff at the Enquiry Point indicated that not all complaints or indeed compliments received were recorded on the official system.
147. In attempting to review customer feedback we noted that the Respond system does not have a particular search category for the Enquiry Point. As this unit is based in the Dumbarton Procurator Fiscal's Office feedback relating to this office was identified and those that made reference to the Enquiry Point were provided for review.
148. 12 complaints made reference to the Enquiry Point during 2011 and 2012. The following describes reasons for complaint:
- Caller was unhappy at way they had been spoken to
- Solicitor unhappy with length of time to answer
- Caller on hold for a long time then cut off
- Information requested was not received
149. It was noted that there did not appear to be a response to 4 of the 12 complaints in the Respond system. This was checked further with management who confirmed that there appears to be no response.
It is recommended that a category for the Enquiry Point is added to the 'Respond' system and that notification of all customer feedback received (whether a complaint, compliment, suggestion or comment) is formally recorded and that responses are issued and also recorded in the system.
151. Another means of assessing performance is independent test calling (mystery shopping). This requires to be done in significantly statistical volumes to be effective. We did not have time to perform such testing in this review.