One moment please: Audit shows Winnipeggers on hold longer for information

By on February 18, 2015


WINNIPEG — An audit shows Winnipeggers are waiting longer on the phone to get information about various city services.

The report says the average wait time after dialing the 311 Contact Centre during the first six months of 2013 was one minute, 45 seconds — up by more than 20 seconds from the previous year.

When the 311 service was launched in 2009, the city wanted 80 per cent of calls to be answered within 30 seconds, but the audit says that target is unrealistic.

It found the standard was only met 22 per cent of the time, and estimates it would take another 20 customer service representatives to achieve that goal.

There were 67 representatives on staff when the audit was done.

The findings will be presented to the city’s Executive Policy Committee later this week.

In 2013, the 311 centre handled about 1.6 million calls. Of those, 44 per cent were related to transit and most dealt with bus schedules.

The audit recommends using interactive voice response technology to route calls for schedules to the proper channel so staff could be freed to handle other centre business. It suggests this would make wait-time targets more manageable.

Inquiries relating to the Water and Waste department account for 17 per cent of all calls, which mostly surround garbage pickup. Around 11 per cent are for Public Works and deal primarily with street maintenance.

The yearly budget for 311 was just under $5 million in 2013. The service was over budget that year by $218,000 because of an increase in calls related to discoloured water and recycling collection. The cost per minute in 2012 worked out to 68 cents.