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Date: 10 May 2012
Title: Mokonyane becomes call centre agent for a day
Johannesburg - When James Sambo - a district official at the Department of Education - logged in a call to have the lab at Uvuyo Primary School in Dobsonville, Soweto, reactivated - he was surprised by the service he received.
At the other end of the line, responding to his call was the Premier of Gauteng herself - Nomvula Mokonyane.
"I was shocked," said Sambo, a first time caller to the Premier's Hotline, sharing his experience with BuaNews. "The service was not only helpful, but it was fast, friendly and professional."
Mokonyane spent the morning in the shoes of the call centre agents. She answered calls, interacted with agents and heard their views and experiences since the launch of the hotline in February.
Other callers that the Premier assisted included a Norwood woman who wanted advice on how to report the disappearance of her brother who had not returned home last night and the car was missing. Another wanted to know how to go about cancelling the booking for his license and whether he would forfeit his fee.
Mokonyane was calm and friendly as she introduced herself to each caller and assisted them.
Manned by 70 professional operators, the hotline was launched as part of the province's efforts to ensure a more responsive public service. The service, which handles on average about 40 calls per hour, is toll-free and available from 7am to 10 pm, Monday to Friday.
The hotline is linked to all the municipalities, departments and provincial agencies to ensure queries are handled efficiently.
The idea behind the hotline was informed by statistics released by the national Presidential Hotline, which operates in President Jacob Zuma's office, which showed that the majority of calls logged emanated from Gauteng. Other provinces with similar call centres include the Western Cape and Limpopo.
Mokonyane, who was presented with call statistics and heard first-hand the causes of bottlenecks in the system, said the overall performance and the resolution of queries was satisfactory.
She said she was pleased to see no calls were dismissed. Instead the call centre agents take callers a step further in finding a solution. "That for me it is a breakthrough," Mokonyane said.
Since its inception in 31 April - the centre has handled 22 840 cases - of which 1 286 was written correspondence.
Of all calls logged, 65.56% are resolved at the call centre, while 16.29% had to be escalated to provincial departments and municipalities or agencies for resolutions. About 17% are still not resolved.
Mokonyane said they were engaging the affected municipalities, departments, agencies to find resolution for the 17% of the unresolved cases.
The hotline aims to attend to all queries within three days of receiving a complaint.
She added that they were working around the clock to improve the speed of response times as promised during the launch.
Of the calls received by the hotline - 80% pertain to service delivery queries and complaints and 20% need general information.
Common queries include questions around electricity cuts and installations, healthcare, the billing systems, fraud, corruption and general customer services such as long queues at frontline desks. Housing delivery was also a major issue received by the hotline.
The Premier said they will have to work closely with Ward Counsellors to address and map where most of the queries come from.
Call centre agent Refilwe Motsoeneng said most of the agents took on the stress of the callers.
"I have to put myself in the shoes of the caller and that can sometimes be tough. Sometimes we receive calls from very angry people, but we have to remain calm and help them."
Residents can contact the hotline on 0860 428 8364 or queries can be emailed to email@example.com or faxed to 011 429 3223 or posted to Private Bag x 115, Marshalltown, Johannesburg, 2107. - BuaNews