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Government call centers: say as little as possible to Quebecers …

1211587(Quebec) in some departments and agencies of the Government of Quebec, managers ask their staff operating in call centers to “limit” the information transmitted during exchanges with citizens.

“For example, the Contact Centre Customer Ministry of Labour, Employment and Social Solidarity, it is strictly forbidden to socioeconomic assistance officers call center of social assistance to take the initiative to mention to people on the phone remedies which they may be entitled or other benefits which they could apply, “reveals a research report published by the Union of public and parapublic sectors Quebec (SFPQ ).

“For many officials, such guidelines conflict with their work ethic and their concept of public service,” says the document, which reported a “significant deterioration” in working conditions in the Quebec government call centers .

In the Capitale-Nationale and Chaudière-Appalaches, nearly 1,000 people work in the call centers of the Quebec government. Mostly women (75%) and employees in precarious time (52%).

No less than 40% of the 492 workers interviewed for the purposes of the survey indicated that they received “sometimes” instructions that were contrary to their work ethic.

“The general impression of having to ship the citizens as soon as possible undermines the morale of several agents of socio-economic assistance, tax audit technicians and information clerks call centers of public service.”

Indeed, 62% of surveyed officials say a sense of powerlessness in their jobs.

SFPQ stresses that pressures are high that officials in some call centers, improve productivity by reducing the average duration of their exchanges with citizens. Calls are timed to the second.

“In many call centers, a timer appears on the screen at the start of the call. From a certain level is exceeded – for example a call 30 minutes while the target is 3 minutes – the agent knows that his performance of individual statistics will be affected. ”

Fortunately, 71% of surveyed agents say take the time to properly respond to citizens.

The rate between calls varies from one organization to another. It is 2 seconds to the Revenue Agency, for 3 to 5 seconds to social assistance, 8 seconds at the Quebec Health Insurance Board, 10 seconds to Services Québec and 12 seconds Society assurance automobile du Québec.

Statistics ‘biased’

The survey SFPQ, whose main results were published a few weeks ago in Le Devoir, shows that departments and agencies, in their statement of services to the population, liked to swagger by reporting their performance in terms of telephone accessibility.

However, some “skew” their accessibility statistics, by SFPQ.

“The quality of services is essentially measured by telephone accessibility of statistics, but they are often filtered to meet the established targets and thus mask the effects of the lack of manpower.”

According SFPQ, “the most common strategy is to close the lines when call volume reaches a certain threshold. Thus, people fixate on a recorded message asking them to call back later or just a committed online. Thus, the official waiting times are kept artificially low. ”

The union reports that management statistics rarely include calls rejected by the phone system and those abandoned by the citizens put on hold.

In the case of calls for financial help center for education Ministry of Education, the rate of non-response has averaged 67% between October 2014 and August 2015, according to data obtained by SFPQ through a request for access to information.

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